Trends in direct mail fundraising come and go every year. One year it was personalized notepads. The year before that, it was Auto-Pen personalization. Still, another was Mini-Notecards. Some trends stick for certain programs and become control packages; many more serve a purpose only in smaller niche segments. But one trend that has been, and always will be in style is – REDUCING COSTS. One of the most obvious, and yet least understood, ways to go about cost reduction is to “gang” your work together in order to gain some efficiencies of scope.
What is the best way to go about it? There are guidelines that always need to be followed in order to combine small groups of work into larger, more efficient runs. There are still more that start with “it depends”. As in, “it depends” on the printer doing the work or the work itself. While you can gang packages together at a mailshop for reduced postage costs, those are typically already as efficient as they will get within a particular mailing – it is almost impossible to gang packages across mailings.
Size: Gang print if you’re printing multiple versions of something that are all the same finished size (for example, several versions of 4CP notecards).
Substrate: This is used for matching paper stocks, especially specialty stocks. The same exact stock means you potentially don’t need to come off press for another setup – all versions can print on one plate.
Timing: If you’re not printing at the same time as the other component you’re looking to gang with, it’s going to be pretty difficult to gang print! That said, timing also applies to the paper order – again, this is especially true for specialty stocks.
The more of these factors that come in common across print versions, the better chance you have for a gang print run, and the lower cost you will have. The absolute best-case scenario is multiple versions of a similar final product, with each version being a relatively low quantity (under 10M). Printing press setups can cost in the hundreds to thousands of dollars for each version, but by combining multiple versions together, you wind up with just one setup.
Even if NONE of the above factors line up perfectly, you can still “gang” your shipping charges, as long as they are delivering around the same time to the same location. That alone can be a major cost saver.