How To Make A Cost-Effective Marketing Brochure

Although some of its functions have been taken over by websites, brochures are still very much needed. When you are marketing in a trade show, for example, a brochure or flyer is necessary if you are to be remembered by visitors of your booth. It is also obligatory when a sales person visits potential clients. Despite the Internet, brochures remain an essential marketing tool.
While large companies usually have purchasers that are already experienced in ordering brochures, small- and medium-scale businesses often do not get their money’s worth due to their lack of know-how. Since their resources are limited, getting maximum savings on their printing and design costs have more impact on their bottom line. I’ve had many years of experience running a printing press, and I would like to share some tips on how to lessen your printing costs:
Deal with the printing press directly. Just this one advice may cut your printing cost by 50 percent. Very often, companies deal with a freelance graphic artist or a jobber to have their brochures done. While this has its advantages, this usually results in a higher price. Instead of doing so, look for a printing press with in-house graphic artists. Most printing presses charge minimal amounts for graphic design since they normally just use this service to attract customers. Some even give the service for free as long as you have the item printed with them. Be aware, though, that often the quality of the design is not at the level of design studios or advertising firms. Still, it is possible to have a decent design at a bargain. See the past brochures done by their artist to gauge expertise.
If going direct to the printing press is so much better, you may wonder, why doesn’t everyone do it? There are two main reasons: First is the time involved. If you will be the one to do it, then the entire process of looking for printers, plant visits, etc. may not be your cup of tea. Second is that you need to know or educate yourself about the basics of printing so that you can accurately communicate and deal with the printer.
Use offset printing for large volumes and digital printing if just a few. If you plan to print only a few hundred brochures, then it would be cheaper if you have it digitally printed. However, offset printing is usually cheaper if you will be printing by the thousands. There are other differences that may matter. Offset printing can be done on a wider assortment of substrates like rough paper, plastic, etc. On the other hand, digital printing can do variable printing. This means you can print different text/images on each sheet. For example, you can have a different name on each copy. This is practically impossible with offset printing because of the high costs of the plate and other expenses.
Quote for three or four quantities. This generally applies to offset printing only; in digital printing, there is little difference in cost no matter the quantity. In offset printing, the greater the volume, the lower the price per piece. If you will need the same brochure again, perhaps you could print the amount that you will use for the future. To be able to decide if the savings is worth the additional cost, you must ask for a quotation in three or four quantities. For example, if you need a thousand copies, ask the printer to quote how much for one-, two and three thousand copies. You may find out that the cost of the additional thousand is less than half the first thousand.
Have at least three printers bid on your brochure. To get the best bargain, you should get quotations from no less than three qualified printers. When I say qualified printers, I mean those with the capability to produce the quantity you want, at the time frame you need it, and at an acceptable quality. There are thousands of printing presses in the Philippines but most are not capable of consistent high quality printing.
You can get a bargain price if you are willing to wait. Many printers are willing to give you a much lower quotation if you are willing to wait a longer time. They can do this because they will be running your order only when they have a press that has no other work to do. This can only be done if you are not in a hurry and if the press run would not take more than a day or two. If the press run is too long, the job may be shelved once a profitable print job comes along.
Have a penalty for delays. To make sure the printer exerts all effort to complete your brochure on time, you need to specify penalties in case of delays. You may, for example, stipulate a one percent penalty per day of delay in delivery. Failure to do this may result in other jobs being prioritized first. It is common for jobs that are already running to be stopped in order to finish a more profitable rush order.
It takes some time to be really proficient in brochure production, especially when dealing with a printer. Still, with a little time and effort, you could be knowledgeable enough to obtain substantial savings. Such savings may mean the difference between a cost-effective brochure and a huge waste of money.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-4, Sunday, November 25, 2012. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.