Publishers – Margin Part 3

So, for a brief history and to recap on the process so far.  Part 1 asked the question “What is an acceptable mark up on materials and freight with your printer?  From that post the following results to date are:

1821 Views, 4 Likes, No comments, 56 messages, 14 new Linkedin connections.  The messages were broken down into 3 categories

1)     I don’t know, not sure how to tell or find out

2)     I’m not telling for others to see in the public view comment section

3)     We are making a good margin, so we don’t care what the mark up is.  Yes, one publisher stated that, not to be named.

I then created a second post, call it Part 2 highlighting the findings of part 1.  I challenged publishers to ask more questions of their print partner, dive deeper into finding out that information.  From that post the following results to date are:

2628 views, 4 likes, 4 comments, 21 messages, 24 new Linkedin connections.  The messages I received can really be broken down into two categories.

1)     Tell me more

2)     We are not interested in finding this out

So that leaves us with part 3 to dive into today in this blog.

I want to address the two categories of messages I received.  I’ll address each starting with the latter first.

We are not interested in finding this out –  At first, I thought it was an anomaly when the first publisher that responded stated that.  But then after hearing the same category of response from six publishers, I realized there are publishers out there who believe the margins or costs associated with their print work isn’t relative or a factor in their organization.  Some printers dream to have a customer that doesn’t focus at all on the cost of printing.  They are certainly few and far between in today’s competitive environment.  I am fully aware that different factors and cost drivers are different between profit and nonprofit, and between different publishing types, but I struggle with understanding how a desire to make the best use of your publishing spend is no longer a part of their responsibility to the members they serve.

Tell me more as we don’t know – This is the area that I will focus on in more detail.  Publishers ranged from a small staff to one that was rather large in nature.   History tells us that their comparisons, related to costs, comes from having other printers quote the work from time to time.  I agree that any publisher should consider having their work competitively bid on every 4-5 years as part of their standard operating procedure.  It allows the publisher to continuously learn more about the capabilities in the market place of new vendors, and to benchmark best practices in print buying.  My only caution when bidding out your work is to make sure your decision makers clearly understand the different between lowest cost and lowest price.

I was challenged by one medium size publisher to explain what my approach would be to better understand their margin with their print vendor.  A follow up call with them explained the approach in more detail, but today I wanted to share some of the highlights of how costs can go unchecked producing your publications.  This is the part where I put in my disclaimer that there are certainly printers that are fully transparent and are very proactive in helping their customers use the best technology platforms and pricing strategies to deliver value and transparency to your organization.  These elements are indicators or prompts for your staff to ask from your print partner and to help you better understand opportunities to drive savings.  For purposes of this article I will focus on the print process and paper.  There are many other cost drivers as well, which we can focus on later.

1)     Best Platform – Is your work printing on the best platform they offer?  Web, sheet fed, digital, inkjet.   We all know run lengths have come down.  Has your printer been proactive in suggesting a better platform to run your print pieces?

2)     Capability – Have they invested in new technology, do they even offer the printing platforms that best fit your work?

3)     Process Shift – Have they shifted your work from one platform to another and have they explained to you the differences in quality and pricing?

4)     Best Practices on Layout – Have they explained the factors as you design your piece, color placement, trim size, page counts, coating, and finishing options, that best fit their equipment and control your costs?

5)     Trim Size – What is the best trim size for their equipment and your presence in the market?  Some want smaller trims, and some want larger trims to stand out.  Changing trims sounds easy but it may have fallen into or out of your print partners sweet spot.

6)     Form of paper used – Are your paper costs priced based on the actual form of the paper they use, meaning in sheets or rolls?

7)     Paper Pricing and Markets – Is your paper pricing tied to their actual costs or the markets or some unknown?

8)     Paper Options – Do they suggest comparative stocks to consider keeping the quality at the same level but drive savings?

As you can see there are many factors that drive the costs of your publication.  Having the education and resources available to you will help you define those opportunities and to identify if it is time to consider a competitive bid from another supplier……. unless you are one of the lucky publishers that fall into the “we are not interested in finding this out” category.

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