In 2014, ad spend for direct mail still outpaced all forms of Internet advertising combined. From direct mail to magazines to outdoor signage, well-executed print products can have a significant impact on any marketing campaign.
And yet, in your work with an outside agency, it’s important to look out for a problem you might not know existed: print bias.
Commercial printers own all of their printing equipment. It may seem like that would provide them with an edge in pricing, but in fact it doesn’t on all but the largest print jobs. What owning the printing equipment does mean is that the printer always wants to make sure it’s running at capacity—and that means printing only those products that fit their equipment. When their printing equipment isn’t running near capacity, a commercial printer is losing money. It’s as simple as that.
It’s not hard to see why that could be a problem. If a printing company is going to be losing money when equipment isn’t running at full capacity, it’s naturally going to be in their best interest to do everything they can to ensure that capacity is filled. Unfortunately, that’s true whether print products are in the client’s best interest or not. Commercial printers have a vested interest in pushing clients towards products that use their own equipment—they have a print bias.
How do you get rid of print bias? It’s simple: find a platform-agnostic agency. Or in other words, find an agency that partners with a fleet of printers with all types of equipment instead of owning it outright. A true print agency has the knowledge to understand when it is time to switch print partners, because your project no longer fits the equipment of the original vendor. This is often the case when counts increase, size or other specs change, or when switching mailing methods.
At WGi, taking the platform-agnostic approach allows us to be agile and accurate. We have the partnerships to meet the speed, price, and quality needs of clients on print jobs. If one of our print partners is fully booked, we can quickly shift to another printer to get the job done at a similar price. What’s more, because we aren’t tied to any one piece of equipment, you can be sure that the services we’re offering you are true value-adds, and not just what helps our bottom line.
Reflect on your own print programs. Have you made significant changes, yet are still using the same print supplier? If your printer or agency is not recommending alternatives, there is a good chance you are a victim of print bias. If that’s the case, it’s probably time to research more efficient use of your print marketing dollars.
Have a question about any of the services we offer? Want to learn more about our print offerings? Get in touch by contacting us here, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.