Paper-buying Resources: A Primer
Paper prices are expected to increase this year. Couple that with the still-uncertain U.S. economy, and you have a period in which making a smart decision about paper is tougher than ever. It requires both a fundamental understanding of the paper market and a willingness to rely on a little help from your friends.
Think Branding First
No matter the type of catalog you have — or the products or services it touts — the first step to take before choosing a catalog paper is to consider your brand, says Kathy Johnston, creative/production services manager at catalog consultancy J. Schmid & Assoc., Shawnee Mission, Kan. “Your brand will determine the range of papers from which to choose,” she explains.
For example, she asks, is it important that your catalog be perceived as environmentally friendly? If so, recycled paper is a good option. Is yours a very high-end catalog? If so, a higher-priced, elegant sheet may be in order. “Taking a look at your brand will at least get the conversation [about paper] started,” she says.
While brand integrity should be your No. 1 priority, cost is close on its heels, followed by considerations such as press speed, color compatibility, area of coverage and so forth. Whether you’re responsible for purchasing paper directly or specifying it for your catalog, there’s a lot to learn.
Who Can Help
The good news is that there are some helpful resources at your immediate disposal — folks who will gladly exchange information and tips on buying paper; let you know when there’s something new on the market; and be your barometer when it comes to market economics and the best deals. These individuals include representatives of the following:
Your printer. When sourcing paper via your printer, require that it prove it’s procuring the best and most cost-effective option your budget will allow. Your printer also may be your best source on quality issues and how efficiently certain stocks will process through your printer’s presses. “Communicate with your printer to ensure it has the expertise and equipment to work with your stock,” advises Terry Monahan, a sales representative for New York City-based Bulkley Dunton Publishing Group, a division of xpedx, paper distributors.