Cost Savings Series: It’s time to take stock, of your stock… paper stock that is!
By now you’ve surely heard all of the brouhaha surrounding the paper market, coated papers in particular, and if you haven’t heard, I’d like a spot next to you under that rock. Multiple month lead times, suppliers (sending them SO much love) having to cancel jobs and “no-bids” due to lack of paper supply, it’s plain old nuts and I will confess to never having seen this industry so disrupted by supply chain shortages in my 20+ years of experience. No one is immune, from the local guys, all the way up to the big web houses.
What’s a nonprofit mailer to do? Most importantly DO NOT PANIC! We’ve got you covered, below are a few ideas for how to fake it ’till you make it, and other options that may help you secure your paper order in this crazy market.
Pro Tip #1: When you request a quote, if a specific stock is not absolutely necessary, be sure to note “house stock” rather than a brand name.
How many of us have been guilty of looking at an old project invoice to request a new quote? Eh? I’ll raise my hand! While old invoices are full of great information, one of the biggest issues that can arise is requesting a quote on a specific stock; for example 60# Husky Offset or 80# Opus Gloss Cover. Both of these, Husky and Opus, are a specific brand of paper.
Every printer has their own “house” stock, what they keep on the floor and/or what is most regularly run (and preferred) on their equipment. It may be Husky or Opus, more than likely it’s not. When we request brand name stocks, that can require printers to special order stock specifically for this single print run, including enough for setups, bindery and any printing issues that may occur. If you’re thinking this would drive the cost up, you are absolutely correct. Allowing your printer the latitude to price on house stock is a great way to shave some numbers off of that cost per thousand for your project. Think of it like buying your local grocery store branded canned veggies, rather than Dole®.
Pro Tip #2: Shed some weight!
IMHO the only place folks should be talking about shedding pounds is in printing, every body is a beautiful body. In print though, a couple of pounds here and there can really add up in savings. The most common place we can save a few pennies is on envelopes, reply envelopes in particular. If your project is still using 24# white wove for your REs or BREs, drop it down to a 20# white wove. It’s a quick change, an easily obtainable stock and has little impact on the feel and presentation of your package.
A drop from a 60# white offset to a 50# white offset also offers some savings. Often folks can see and feel the difference in this swap, so we’d suggest keeping it to a component with little ink coverage and more of a low $ feel; think acquisition, multi sheet letters, larger components with multiple folds, and buckslips. Similar savings can be found downgrading coated stocks, 80# text down to 70# is an easy swap with 70# still offering plenty of opacity for heavier ink coverage.
NOTE: Sharing preliminary art with your production partner is a great way to discuss and explore stock options prior to finalizing specs and budget for your project.
Pro Tip #3: Fake it!
This is where print gets just plain fun. Can’t get your hands on gloss text in time, but a dull coated sheet is available? Flood gloss aqueous coat to the rescue! You’d be hard pressed to see the difference once that coating is applied and mail date is saved. BTW, this works in reverse as well, flood satin AQ over a gloss sheet can dull down that shine.
Have to have that linen or laid cover for a small Hi$ notecard mailing, but the wait time for the stock is 16 weeks? Talk with your printer about blind embossing a texture that mimics the desired finish on a cover stock that is available. Note that this can be costly, so should be leveraged with that in mind. Alternatively, Felt and Vellum finishes are both beautiful high-end sheets, but are less requested, so may be available as a stocking item at some mills, particularly for short run/sheet fed projects.
Want newsprint, but can’t get it? There are plenty of stock images of textures of newsprint that can be printed as a background on standard white offset to convincingly mimic the look. This technique can also be applied to mimic bubble mailers and even grooved stock, but only from a visual perspective, the tactile experience remains flat.
Tactile experience really what you need? Enter UV textures. Did you know that there are UV inks that can be used to create ANY texture on paper? Whatever you can dream (and build as a layer in your design) can be plated and printed. Zebra stripes? Check. Repeating checkerboard pattern? You betcha. Braille? Oh yeah. This does require equipment not every printer has, so be sure to include your production partner in your plans so that they can help guide you through stock selection, design and budget as well as secure you a spot in ever tightening schedules.
Until next time, happy printing!