Archive for the ‘Custom Envelopes vs. Stocked’ Category

Why Are the Bids Wildly Different?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Yesterday’s blog was a continuation of bid specifying. We shot a photo of my specification sheet that I use, but it came out too dark, and is too small to read, so we will try to correct that problem shortly. In the meantime, I thought a specification list would be easy for you to follow and if you want to create your own spec sheet you can. You are free to use the following information:

I. Customer’s Company Name

A. Contact Name, Address, and Phone or email address

B. Date including when estimate is required, when the job is due, when customer art is expected, and if a partial delivery will do.

C. Does the Customer want proofs? How? What kind? Attend a press check? How much notice is required?

II. Job Title

A. Description, for example: 16 page booklet, self-cover, saddle-stitched.

B. Quantity

C. New or Pickup? Is it a new job (never been run before) or a rerun (pickup) from a previous order? If pickup provide last invoice or job number and date.

D. Size, Flat,  Finished, Page Count, Self or Plus Cover

E. Are There Bleeds? Where, head, foot, right side, left side, full, or none?

F Printing Method? Digital, Sheet-fed offset, Cold Web, Heat-set Web, Letterpress, Other.

G. Any Other Special Requirements?

III. Customer Furnished Art and Proofs

A. Customer supplies: disk, PC or Mac, Program Name and Version, Dummy. Will send by email, or ftp?

B. Printer supplies: Typeset, Layout, Design, Proof, What type of proof (hard or electronic?)

IV. Paper

A. Describe Paper for Each Part i.e. Cover, Text, and page count for each. For example, a 16 page booklet with cover and flyleaf, saddle-stitched would be: 4pages cover, 4 pages flyleaf, and 16 pages text, for a total of 24 pages.

1. Weight of stock or thickness (cover weight, book, text, ledger, etc.)

2. Color of the Paper?

3. Description: Mill, Paper Line, Finish (linen, wove, etc.)

4. Coated or Uncoated? If coated is it Gloss, Dull, Satin, or Matte?

5. If it is an envelope will it be custom (converted from flat sheet, windows) or stocked? Size, prints face, flap, inside?

6. If it is a form, how many plies, color rotation for carbonless (w/y/p).

V. Ink

A. How Many Color on each side? Does it print 4/2 (four color one side and two on the other? Or maybe 1/1 (one color both sides). Is it the same color on both sides, i.e. red ink on one and blue on the other.

B. How Much Ink Coverage? Heavy, Medium, or Light.

C. Specialty Inks, laser ready, quick dry, hard dry, etc.

VI. Bindery

A. How does it Bind? Saddle-stitch, Perfect Bind, Wire-o, Plastic Comb, Hard Cover, Velo, Plastic Coil, Spiral, etc.

B. Does it require–Folding, Scoring, Collation?

C. Padding? How many sheets per pad, with chipboard or without, std. padding glue? Where, top, or sides.

VII. Other

A. Die Cutting

B. Foil Stamp/Foil Emboss/Blind Emboss–die required? What size? What material: Copper, Brass? How intricate? One level, two or more?

C. Numbering–beginning number, ending number. Red or Black?

D. Tabbing–how many banks? How many positions? Each sheet unique or are faces common and tabs the only variable? Mylar reinforce tabs, color? Three hole drill or other? Reinforce holes?

E. Gluing–as in pockets for a kit cover. How many? Other?

F. Perforation–Corner, “L”, or straight? Standard perf or micro? Laser ready?

G. Drill–how many holes and where? What size hole?

H. Shrink wrap–How many to a package,number of packages.

VIII. Packaging and Delivery

A. Bulk Box–product placed in box without any other wrapping.

B. Paper Band, Rubber Band, Shrink Wrap–how many per package, how many per box?

C. Standard Boxes, or special?

D. One local delivery address or more? Specify how many to each location.

E. To Ship? How (FedEx, UPS, USPS, other)? Use customer account or printers?

F. Samples? How many to customer, or other?

Can you believe that I was able to boil down all these points on one 81/2″X11″ form, and still have room to make a sketch to communicate more thoroughly? The real trick is understanding the job, and writing it down in such a way that the vendors will have the same clear information for giving you their best bid. If done right, a spec sheet removes all guesswork. Guessing, and assuming are the bane of printers. When they are all working from common specifications you’ll see their bids will come in much tighter. Wild pricing differences will be a thing of the past, and you won’t have any more surprises after the printer receives the art. They won’t call and say, “This is different than the way we bid it. There will be additional charges.” Had you budgeted for that contingency? I doubt it.

How a 1/2″ Could Double Your Postage Cost

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

I know I said I was going to continue the printing plant tour and I will, but not today. I’m thinking of envelopes at the moment. One client  is anxious to test a mailing using an extra large window envelope. He envisions the window big enough to contain the customer’s address and display a bold personalized laser printed message. It’s probably a good idea. One secret to direct mail success is to vary your presentation so your customers can’t anticipate what is inside the envelope. Otherwise they might discard your message without even looking at it. Horrors.

The problem with getting too creative is the US postal service. They don’t like anything that doesn’t fit their narrow parameters. In their perfect world every piece of mail would be exactly the same size, use exactly the same paper, and be addressed exactly the same way. Then nothing would jam their equipment and everything would  fly through their systems with very little trouble.

How can we reconcile what the post office wants with the need of the advertisers to attract attention? How can you make your sales message heard in the babble of other direct mail messages? Don’t get me wrong the post office will mail envelopes that don’t conform to their specifications, but the extra postage required to do this usually makes it economically unfeasible.

Try different paper, try colored paper, try window variations, try no window, try matching the salutation on the letter inside with the address on the outside, but before you do all of that learn what the post office requirements really are. For example did you know you could mail a 6X9 envelope for the same postage as an ordinary No.10 business envelope? But if you mail a 6 1/2X9 1/2 size (the size you’d need to mail a 6X9 brochure) it could double your postage? That extra half-inch makes all of the difference in the world.

It’s not just extra postage either. There aren’t stacks of special window envelopes available at the special window store. There is a whole industry dedicated to what we call in the trade, envelope converting. If you want something unique, and different to capture attention, you will have to custom make your envelope. Custom envelopes, like custom anything, cost more, but the bottom line question is, will you attract more buyers by spending more, and will you get enough new buyers to make it worthwhile? There is only one way to find out–test, test, test. Try it this way, then try it that way, and keep accurate records of what pulls better.

The problem is once again, cost. The longer you can keep the press running without having to change plates or ink the better the unit cost, so running two different  5,000 piece jobs will cost more than running one 10,000 piece order. Testing will cost more than not testing, but how much will flying blind cost you in the long run? There is no way to know because you didn’t test.

It seems like a no brainer to me, but it isn’t my money I’m spending. The only thing I can do as a print broker is help the customer know what their options are, find the best ways to get their stuff printed, and always keep looking for better solutions.

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