Many firms are wasting time and money and don’t even know it.
Digital marketing is getting their attention and for good reason.
A recent article in eMarketer projects 2018 U.S. digital ad spending will surpass $107 billion. Digital media is projected to eclipse traditional media in 2019, accounting for 55% of total media ad spending. That’s big, but this still represents a portion of overall marketing budgets.
According to a recent Gartner study, on average U.S. companies spend 12% of revenue on marketing with over 21% allocated to mostly digital channels. So, while much of the attention and some of the spend has shifted to digital, traditional services including print remain considerable line items.
The U.S. Commerce Department reports in 2017, spending on commercial printing was $76 billion. While down from previous years, this still a significant sum. So it’s critical that businesses manage this spend wisely. But doing so is difficult and requires specific expertise.
With over 26,000 firms in the U.S., printing is a diverse and complex industry. Plants and equipment vary widely so each company has unique capabilities and specialties. A printer of short-run forms may not efficiently produce books. Or a digital brochure printer may cost-effectively produce small quantities but not longer runs of the same product. Every printing firm has its strengths and weaknesses.
To purchase different forms of print effectively, it’s vital to identify which firms are best suited to each project. Yet, with an increased focus on digital marketing, many businesses don’t have the in-house expertise to effectively source and manage the process. Printing is often treated as an afterthought but, given the significant dollars spent, it shouldn’t be.
Lacking in-house resources, some believe working with one or a few printers is an efficient way to buy these services. But that’s usually not the case. Printers make significant capital investments so they have a vested interest in keeping their facilities busy. Most will match a project to their equipment, whether it fits or not, leading at times to gross inefficiencies. Bidding to multiple printers doesn’t assure any of the selected firms are best suited for the project either.
Properly sourcing and managing printing require deep industry knowledge, years of experience, technology, and extensive contacts. But since this level of print expertise is not a core competency at most firms, another option is becoming increasingly popular. The professional print management specialist.
A print specialist works to efficiently produce the clients’ printing work. They understand the industry, have networks of pre-qualified and fully vetted providers and specialized technology to manage the process. Unhindered by plant and facilities, they help clients bid and place work with the firm best suited to produce it efficiently, getting quality results while saving money.
So what is the best solution for managing print purchasing within your firm?
It depends on your annual spend and whether your technology and staff can manage it efficiently. Auditing your print expenditures against a competitive marketplace, internally or through a third party, will provide the insights needed to make an informed decision. Then you’ll find that:
- You’re currently buying printing efficiently. Congratulations, keep it up.
- You’ve identified significant potential savings. If savings offset the cost, consider adding an experienced print manager to your staff, investing in marketing procurement technology or outsourcing to a professional print management firm.
- You’ve identified moderate savings. If savings will not support hiring then consider investing in marketing procurement technology and/or engaging a print management firm to help with the process.
Optimizing your marketing supply chain usually yields savings that far exceed any investment involved. So it’s worth the effort to assure you’re getting the most from every dollar spent.
Your bottom line will thank you.