With the fall season comes the inevitable look at and re-vamping of association publishing budgets—and often, the consideration of new vendors who just might be able to save your organization money in the coming year.
Association Media & Publishing member Noah Knoble, an account executive at J.B. Kenehan (formerly Conley Printing), has compiled these tips to help you reduce magazine printing costs—right now.
1. Tweak the production schedule to a less busy time. If you are open to a change in your production schedule, speak to your printer about the possibility of a discount for moving to an open time of the month to fill a hole in your printer’s press time.
2. Talk to your printer about lower basis weight paper stocks. You know what’s best for your publication, but there is always an alternative that will save you money—not only in printing costs, but also in mailing/freight costs due to the lesser weight.
3. Match page counts to your printer’s equipment to maximize efficiencies. Where you print, sheet fed vs. web, and the equipment your vendor has will determine the number of pages available in each form. A web-based printer is more efficient in printing 16 and 32 page forms for signatures. An additional 8 pages can be done, but you could get 16 pages for less than the cost of 8. How about that for helping you sell ad space! Now apply that logic to your current vendor: Ask them where the greatest efficiency is for their equipment.
4. Ask your vendor about an aqueous or varnish coating if you have a UV coated cover. They are very similar and typically will provide a savings. If you have a dull UV-coated cover, ask your printer about a dull varnish; once again these are very similar and usually there is a savings to make the switch.
5. Gang up your publications. If you print more than one publication on the same paper stock and the same trim size with the same vendor, ask about ganging them up. This means printing them one right after the other. Why should you do this? Printers will often give you a discount called a "repeat make ready” for not having to do an additional setup. This savings can be significant and is worth checking into.
6. If your association magazine’s cover is on cover weight paper, consider switching to text weight. Its lighter (saves in mailing) and less expensive. If you don’t know what you use now, ask your vendor before you go out to bid to ensure you get an apples to apples comparison with no surprises.
7. Pick the most efficient tabloid size. Are you printing a tabloid sized publication? For a savings in printing and mailing, consider moving the trim size to 10-3/4×12 inches. This trim size allows you to be unique and oversized, yet can be printed in 24 page forms instead of the regular 16 page forms.
8. Switch to a self cover. Are your inside pages light gloss with a heavy 4-page cover—for example, 36 pound gloss inside pages with a 4-page 100 pound cover? If so, consider this: Lose the cover, bump up your inside paper stock to something like a 50-pound gloss, and make your publication a self cover. You will save money and have a quality product throughout. The same holds true for a transition from uncoated to coated stock.
9. Try a heatset printer instead of a coldset. Maybe you want to stay on uncoated paper stock because it fits your publication, but you still want an upgrade. Or maybe you use an uncoated paper stock, want an upgrade, but aren’t quite ready to go to a gloss. A heatset printer can offer the upgrade in quality that a coldset printer simply cannot. In heatset printing, the web is run through a heater to set the ink, yielding crisper images and ink that will never smear. It offers an upgrade that you, your advertisers, and readers will notice.
10. Work with a printer that is a great asset to your association. In times like these with an ever-changing paper market and postal regulations, your print representative should be your association’s consultant, advisor, and a great source of information on maximizing your association publishing team’s marketing efforts, improving your publication, reducing costs, increasing efficiencies, and forecasting for the future.