Printer Lead Times Do Matter
There's more to obtaining print bids than price. Printer lead times should be part of the mix. For example, when mail tapes and creative files are due to the printer should be considered.
The shortest (and best) schedule I've seen is 14 days prior to the initial mail date for submitting mail tapes. The longest is 23 days to 33 days prior. This difference of nine to 19 days can result in lost sales because it shortens the cutoff date for including recent or "hotline" buyers in the mailing.
The shorter the deadline when mail files are due to the printer the better. This enables catalogers to include more recent buyers in the mailing. Below is an example of the impact on a typical consumer gift catalog company. In this real-life example, a 19-day shorter lead time would enable this mailer to include an additional 2,500 hotline buyers, on average, in every catalog drop. Based on the response rate and average order size of its hotline buyers, this cataloger is giving up over $10,000 in a single mailing, or $127,700 of lost sales annually.
Co-mail pools and postal discounts can still be maximized even with shorter mail tape lead times. Maximize your sales by extending your cutoff date, and consider mail tape and creative file lead times the next time you obtain print bids.