The Right Paper Can Save You Money
At the beginning of this year, the U.S. Postal Service increased “Standard A” bulk mailing rates up to 11 percent. Few catalog marketing companies were in a position to simply absorb the extra postage. The challenge facing them was how to mitigate such a significant cost increase. Fortunately, there are ways to optimize production costs and offset much of the cost of the postal rate hike.
The Three “P’s”
The three major cost components in producing a mail order catalog are postage, paper and printing.
“Postage is basically a fixed cost, but paper and printing can yield significant cost efficiencies,” notes Andrew Hanscom of The Strategic Paper Group in Newport Beach, CA, a paper merchant. “There are several key variables: optimizing the trim size of the catalog, adjusting the page count and going with a lighter paper.”
The goal for most catalog publishers is to hit the “magic” weight, the piece rate threshold of 3.3087 ounces. As the number of decimal places suggests, this is a precise calculation involving everything that contributes weight to a catalog.
“I work with catalog producers to optimize their catalog size by height and width on press—the trim size,” Hanscom explains. “Then we calculate the total square inches of printable space in their book. At that point, we know the weight of the catalog and we can start making decisions that really affect cost.”
The Paper Factor
Of the three “p’s,” paper holds the most significant potential for producing cost savings. Yet, it isn’t just a matter of reducing the basis weight. Paper should be evaluated in terms of price and performance on press, as well.
Clearly, paper waste is a significant cost factor, especially on a web press delivering 3,000 impressions per minute. Reducing paper waste involves:
1) knowing the true and actual consumption of paper on press and in the bindery, and