How often do you ask a client why a product has been briefed the way it has?
In my role as Senior Sales Manager at Walstead UK, I receive client projects and print quote requests on a daily basis and it’s pretty much the first question I ask after I’ve reviewed the specification. Typically, if a product has been sized or printed in a certain way in the past, the reply is ‘it’s always been like that’.
More often than not, I’ll be able to suggest a way of modifying the spec slightly to make it more efficient, whether that be paper savings or reduction in lead-times. In fact, it’s very rare that I can’t find a way! In an age where procurement or finance departments are increasingly buying print, alongside everything else, the knowledge of how to make print work harder is being lost. I see my role as consultative and I am more than happy to offer suggestions on how a slight change in product spec can make a positive impact on the bottom line.
As with most things in life, it’s important to raise these types of questions in a positive fashion; explain the thinking to the client and offer alternative solutions. One such scenario is when a client will have seen a bespoke short-run piece of print that they wish to scale up to suit their needs, however a specification that works for 2,000 copies may be unsuitable and cost-prohibitive for 200,000 copies.
To give you some examples, a slight reduction in paper weight from 130gsm to a 115gsm paper grade allows the job to be printed in larger section sizes, which reduces make ready costs, not to mention reduced postage costs. Similarly, a minimal reduction in trim size, say from an original width of 220mm to 210mm, could result in a paper cost saving of up to 5%. That’s good news at a time when material costs continue to rise and impact client budgets. These savings can then be reinvested into the product and used to generate added value in other areas, such as a special finish on the cover or a bound insert.
While I’m on the subject of paper and budgets, the type of grade selected can have a big impact on budgets and is a potential area for cost savings. If the original paper choice of an uncoated grade (typically priced at the higher end of the market) is becoming costly to continue, a high-bulk matt coated stock (a mid-price point grade) could be a viable alternative without impacting on the end user’s view or enjoyment of the product. Subtle re-engineering can make a big difference on a budget.
With the uncertainty in the current market and rising input costs, many clients are retendering their products in their current form, occasionally requesting an alternative option.
I worked with a client recently where by making four subtle changes to the product, we were able to reduce the unit cost by 30%! Upon receiving the enquiry, I asked if I could supply a re-engineered spec for consideration, the client was pleased with the initiative – nobody had ever asked them before. When the estimate for the alternative price was received, the client called and asked me to double check that it was correct, and of course, I was pleased to confirm it was!
I’ve yet to meet a client who is disappointed with being able to go back to the stakeholders in their business and offer some alternative options. The consultative approach is one that both parties should embrace. The sharing of information helps our awareness of the client’s needs and their production knowledge is increased. During the discussions, rather than just quoting a specification, a trusted relationship is formed where both parties have invested shared experiences in providing a product that ticks all the boxes, from budget and beyond.
As Europe’s largest independent web-offset printing company, I believe we at Walstead have a duty to use our expertise to consult with a client on their options and use our in-depth knowledge of print manufacturing to ensure they’re maximising the return on their print budget. When it comes to the three P’s (printing, postage and paper), 5mm can really make all the difference!
When marketing and print budgets are under scrutiny year on year, it’s more important than ever that we, as print industry experts, consult with our clients to ensure we’re doing all we can to make their print work harder for them.
If your print budgets are coming under pressure, or you’d like to explore how your print can work harder for you, please contact me on 07740 511 525 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an informal discussion on how we might be able to help. Happy to provide samples and paper dummies in addition and at no extra cost to yourselves. I look forward to helping you save time, money, stress – ideally all three!