Ya Gotta Start Somewhere, Step One: Getting the Most Out of Your Catalog Printer
* Bind the catalog and any other materials, such as an order form, together. Many times I’ve had materials printed in addition to the catalog that were bound or blown in. Most companies don’t bind in order forms anymore. However, other inserts, such as special offers for different market segments, still get bound in. Many times this printed material gets printed elsewhere and shipped to the printer for binding.
* Print the customers’ names, addresses and associated postal barcodes on the outside of the catalog and inside the order form. They also print additional messages and special offers on the outside of the catalog and the order form.
* Sort the catalogs out to take advantage of postal discounts, and then palettize them based on this sortation.
* Truck the catalogs closer to the end reader by delivering them — on the same truck as other catalogs to save money — to the Bulk Mail Centers (BMC) and Sectional Center Facilities (SCF).
All of these processes, plus plate making, shipping bounceback copies to your offices and other miscellaneous charges, get line items on your price quote.
Which is why I say that it’s a good idea to make friends with your printer.
Seriously, a good printer rep will be looking to mail your catalog in the most efficient way possible. Work with it to determine the most efficient trim size and number of pages.
Catalog postal rates are determined by the weight of the catalog. Also, since catalog printers have different press efficiencies, ask yours whether plates of eight, 12 or 16 pages work better. Also, ask which trim size fits its presses for the best pricing.
Once you’ve discussed all of the possibilities with your potential printer, have it take the quote and put it in a spreadsheet, projected out by the amount of catalogs you’re planning to mail. I regularly plan out an entire year in advance, but for the purposes of long-range planning, I’ve had printers develop print models for three to five years out.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.