Many marketers are wasting their time and money but don’t even know it.
Digital marketing is getting much of their attention and for good reason. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reports that U.S. Marketers spent $42.8 billion on digital marketing in 2013, which includes social, email, mobile, display advertising and SEO. Advertising Age expects spending to increase to $76.6 billion by 2016. That’s significant growth, but it represents just a part of overall marketing budgets.
According to a recent Gartner study, U.S. companies spend an average of 10.4% of revenue on marketing with roughly 25% spent on digital marketing activities. So, while much of the attention and some of the spend has shifted to digital, traditional services, including print, still command a significant portion of many budgets.
According to the NAPL, a leading U.S, printing trade organization, in 2014 customers will spend over $80 billion on commercial printing nationwide, almost twice as much as on interactive. It’s critical that businesses spend these funds wisely but doing so is more difficult than it seems.
Printing has always been a complex industry and adoption of digital technologies has made it even more so. Today, the U.S. commercial printing industry consists of over 35,000 firms specializing in a variety of technical areas including sheetfed offset, heatset web, forms, digital printing, wide format, publications and quick copy to name a few. Yet with the increased focus on digital marketing, many agencies and corporate marketers no longer have staff with the expertise to effectively manage all the forms of print they buy. Printing is often treated as an afterthought, but given the significant dollars spent it shouldn’t be.
Lacking in-house resources, some believe that working directly with a printer is the best way to buy these services but that’s often not the case. Printing firms make significant capital investments in their facilities and have a vested interest in keeping that equipment busy. Most will match projects with their equipment, leading at times to gross inefficiencies. Bidding to multiple printers doesn’t assure that any of the selected shops is best suited for the project either.
Properly sourcing and managing printing today requires deep industry knowledge, years of experience 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 outsource their clients’ printing work. They understand the industry and have built networks of pre-qualified and fully vetted providers. Unhindered by plant and facilities, they can bid and place work with the printer best suited to produce it efficiently, getting quality results while saving money. By combining the spend of many firms, they also gain the buying power to negotiate deeper discounts than many firms can manage on their own.
So what is the best solution for managing print purchasing within your firm or agency? The answer depends on your annual spend and whether you have the talent in-house to manage it efficiently. Auditing your print expenditures, internally or through a third party, will provide the insights needed to make an informed decision. Then you’ll find that:
1. You’re currently buying printing efficiently. Congratulations, keep it up.
2. You’ve identified significant potential savings. If savings offset the cost, consider adding an experienced print manager to your staff or outsourcing to a professional print management firm.
3. You’ve identified moderate savings. If savings will not support hiring then consider engaging a print management consultant or or contracting with a management firm.
Ben Franklin, American patriot and printer, wrote the famous line that “a penny saved is a penny earned”. Since printing still represents a large part of many marketing budgets, it’s worth the effort to make sure you get the most from every dollar spent. Your bottom line will thank you.