In the Trenches: Savvy Approach to Production Can Help Slash Your Bottom Line
Remember, it’s not only OK, but also often advisable, to employ different size shops on various components of a campaign. That’s where your agency can really help; your partners will know where to find the cost-effective production resources to deliver the printed materials you so painstakingly created.
Consider envelope options
Printing on pre-formed envelopes using a jet press is much less expensive and usually faster than printing flat sheets on a sheet-fed press. Printing flat-sheet envelopes requires die cutting and converting, which add to bottom-line costs.
Arts organizations and other nonprofits whose missions focus on nature or culture, etc., often wrestle with this issue.
Case in point is a well-known urban botanical garden forced to choose between producing a gorgeous carrier envelope with lots of colors and a magnolia on it and a less expensive, two-color pre-formed envelope. In this case, the organization found a happy medium, choosing a still-stylish but less expensive envelope.
But that isn’t necessarily the right answer in all situations. Keeping costs in check is a priority, but it has to be balanced against the visual nature of a direct mail appeal to ensure that the effectiveness of the creative doesn’t suffer from the cost-cutting measures. The goal for the botanical garden was maximum ROI, and keeping total production costs as low as reasonably possible was critical to the success of the campaign.
Large envelope companies manufacture standard-size envelopes in mass quantities, and you might be able to purchase a smaller quantity — say 50,000 — from a lot of a million. Another benefit of printing on pre-formed envelopes is that it saves time. If you typically use the same size envelope, consider printing a larger quantity for use over a longer period of time.
Pick the paper to match the job
Sure, everyone likes a premium, bright-white paper. But this option is expensive and won’t always be necessary, or even advisable, for nonprofits. This is especially true for organizations that are concerned about contributors’ perceptions of how donated dollars are spent. For instance, a fine-stock paper would be more appropriate for an appeal to major donors of a university alumni fund than for a crisis appeal from a local social-services agency.