“Oh my … you are soooo thrifty!!!”
Get it inexpensively, on a budget, while still looking like you didn’t cut corners … there are many secrets to obtaining this goal.
KEEP IT IN-HOUSE!!!
One of the first things I stress to any small business, especially those just starting out, whether or not they are on a shoe-string budget, is to organize things in a way where you can print everything on your own personal printers “as you need them.” There are many reasons for this, first being cost.
Another reason short run is so powerful is flexibility. Have you ever ordered stationery from a commercial printer? There are minimum quantities, such as 250, 500 or 1,000. This represents a true cost to you, especially if you use multiple colors, and worse, colors of ink that are not the standard brown, green, black, red or reflex blue. This includes online quick print shops like VistaPrint.
What’s worse is … in this day and age, things change so quickly, business moves so fast, and before you know it and before you even get one-quarter of a way through all that stationery you just purchased, something has changed and have new stationery printed leaving your old to float helplessly to the bottom of the circular file.
So here’s a trick:
Set up your letterhead and envelope in a Microsoft Word Template file (file type .docx).
You can export your logo from your graphics program and place it in a Microsoft Word, set your margins, even include your standard signature line if you like, save as the .docx, then every time you open it, it’s a clean letterhead that you can type your letter onto, save the digital format, print all inclusive of your letterhead information and with a little “John Hancock” you’re ready to send it out the door!
Same is true for standard #10 business envelopes, they are 9.5″ wide by 4.125″ tall and I recommend a margin of about .25″. Set it up the same way and you’re off to the races.
Oh, and if you still send paper faxes (some businesses do), or even efaxes, you can set up your fax forms in Word either from scratch or using one of Word’s many templates.
DO NOT USE paper stock for an inkjet printer that is bumpy like Classic Linen or Classic Laid. The ink just wont penetrate the crevices and your print out will look terrible. Choose a heavier weight smooth paper, like a standard 24# or 28# Bond or a 70# Offset Opaque. They’re much less expensive too.
Same goes for brochures, flyers, catalogs and other similar marketing collateral.
WHEN TO USE A PRINT SHOP
With all of the above said, their are still times when using a commercial print shop or copy shop is still the right way to go! When you do use them though, I highly recommend short runs on digital color presses (or color copiers) wherever possible. Some printers you may have in your office just can’t print on your envelopes so you may need to job that out to a shop … OR … you really don’t care for the look and have a very specific need.
But usually the place where a shop is most necessary is for the all important Marketing Collateral. Marketing Collateral includes brochures, flyers, booklets, catalogs and your business cards, to name a few.
Why? well, first and foremost, you can provide your brochure in dazzling full color! Let’s face it, color makes an impact and perception is king … a full color piece with bleed (bleed is where the ink goes to the edge of the paper) on quality paper, makes a BIG statement about you and your business — a statement of success and trustworthiness.
Again, short-run at the print shop also means flexibility … I cannot tell you how many times clients have had to throw huge piles of marketing collateral away because they weren’t used fast enough and things had changed.
The only time I really recommend a large run for your collateral is if you are doing a direct mail or other marketing distribution campaign and you know the quantity that will be distributed. Get that quantity and maybe just a few hundred over that number for your own in-house needs and for mistakes that could be made in the distribution process.
Every day we learn as we work in our businesses. We learn new ways of telling our story, we add new products and services that compliment the core of our offerings and so on. Something in the industry changes and we have to change to go with the flow. If you don’t have a lot of brochures you need to throw away, you just saved yourself a lot of money!
By designing your materials so that you can print them out on your own inkjet printer when you need them, not only do you save a ton of money because you don’t have a large up-front cost and less potential for waste, you create an even more sophisticated appearance because of your ability to use full color AND to customize your materials for a specific person or audience (known as variable print data).
Your graphic artist, who is hopefully also business savvy and knows marketing, should be able to set up your stationery (letterhead AND envelope) in Microsoft Word documents on to which you can type your letters and envelope addresses and then print out “on demand,” on your own ink-jet printer. Just swap out your regular paper for a nicer stationery paper and voila … you have a professional letter with a high-quality full-color identity.
WRAPPING IT UP
When you use your own in-house print on demand setup, you eliminate paper storage issues, severely reduce waste issues and minimize filing headaches as it’s as easy as saving the Word Template as a Word Document in a file folder on your computer.
Which brings me to my final point for this issue … these cost saving printing ideas are not just saving you money, but they are very … “green.” The less paper we use, the less waste we make and the better off our environment is.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Please be sure to join me next week when we talk about the “Standardizing of Layouts,” why they are so important and how they save you time, money and headaches!
All my best,
iMoogi Enterprises LLC