Insight/ Traditional Media

The Power Of Print Outsourcing


by Patrick Fogarty
Vice President & Customer Communications Management Leader
Pitney Bowes Management Services

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Article Highlights:

  • Managing printing and integrating it with the rest of the marketing communication mix is more complex than ever before.
  • When organizations outsource, they not only benefit from expertise gained, they also gain in efficiency and capacity.
  • Process optimization looks both upstream and downstream from printing itself.

Those proclaiming that print is dead are dead wrong. Print communication continues to play a vital role in the multichannel marketing mix.

In fact, according to IDC, print sourcing and procurement is projected to grow globally 14.8 percent from $6.6 billion in 2011 to $13.2 billion in 2016.

In the age of choice, consumers want to be communicated to the way they want. That may mean they prefer to receive an e-newsletter, but they may also want printed statements and offers. It’s in marketers’ best interest to deliver the combination of communications exactly the way each consumer prefers.

That said, managing printing and integrating it with the rest of the marketing communication mix is more complex than ever before. It requires a higher level of expertise in printing, database management, and postal production processes, as well as a vetted network of local printers to keep jobs close to their delivery destinations. For most companies, that level of print management is not a core competency of their marketing departments; as a result, many marketers are turning to outsourcing solutions to improve print management.

Leveraging Print Savings
Print outsourcing involves consolidating print management and procurement with a firm that specializes in printing and can provide the vital consulting services to optimize print production and distribution, coordinate print with communication across all channels, and leverage print spending to create significant savings. An outsourcing partner can help marketers gain a competitive advantage by transforming the way they create, produce, distribute, and—most importantly—integrate their customer communications.

Outsourcing print management allows marketers to:

  • Maximize resources—from both a cost and labor perspective;
  • Optimize customer communications—reaching customers and prospects the way they prefer to drive revenue and retention;
  • Benefit from wider leverage—combining print spend across multiple clients maximizes and sustains cost savings over time
  • Enhance control of brand identity—ensuring proper branding and alignment by centralizing all printed marketing communications;
  • Access world-class print capabilities globally—leveraging the optimal quality print services based on each campaign;
  • Go to market faster—greater speed and agility in production and distribution for revenue-generating campaigns and critical customer communications; and
  • Improve compliance and reduced risk—leveraging only prevetted printers close to delivery locales, saving time and money.

Organizations that outsource gain the ability to direct their efforts at their core businesses while acquiring expertise and capacity.

Value, Capacity, And Control
When organizations outsource, they not only benefit from expertise gained, they also gain in efficiency and capacity. An outsourcing print management partner can adjust to virtually any workload, making last minute or one-off campaigns possible without investing in equipment and resources. Companies pay for only what they use rather than having to staff up for peak capacity. And they gain the leverage that comes from the massive combined volumes that are managed by outsource providers.

Outsourcing print management provides access to the latest print capabilities around the world. This creates the ability to near-source print campaigns, increasing both speed-to-market and reducing costs. Access to a wider selection of printers with specialized capabilities and technologies also helps in allocating each job to the optimum available print provider.

A Holistic Approach To Document Processing
Extensive expertise in print-stream engineering and file-based processing is necessary to ensure that all components of every mail piece are properly personalized and coordinated. Customer satisfaction and loyalty, compliance, and privacy requirements demand that consumers receive only the communications that were meant for—and are meaningful to—them, and that their personal information is kept secure.

Overall process optimization looks both upstream and downstream from printing itself—a more holistic approach to document processing uncovers savings before and after documents are printed:

  • Looking upstream: The best way to reduce your print costs is to print less, so improvements in data quality can eliminate duplication and bad records, thereby reducing the size of print runs and improving return on investment. The better the data, the more accurate and effective the personalization can be. In addition, effective data analytics will yield “next best action” in communicating with an intended customer and, in some cases, will reveal that print might not be the optimal channel.

  • Looking downstream: In addition to near-sourcing print jobs to minimize time and reduce expense of delivery, organizations can gain significant savings through presort during or after the print production process. Stricter postal automation and presort requirements make it increasingly difficult for individual organizations and smaller presort suppliers to capture these savings.

Working with an outsourcing partner with expertise in both print and mail can deliver even greater benefits. Not only can you save on the print side, but you can also lock in savings for your direct mail efforts, giving you more flexibility to test different marketing messages and offers in different areas without sacrificing postal discounts.

Overall, organizations are finding that a holistic approach enables improvements in everything from document creation through delivery and creates benefits that extend well beyond print savings.

While all organizations can benefit from streamlining their print supply chain and workflow, midsize to large companies with a minimum print spend of $10 million annually gain the most from print management outsourcing. On average, these companies save up to 30 percent of their overall print spend.

Print outsourcing gives companies access to equipment with advanced technologies, systems, and expertise while reducing risk and the ability for significant savings. For marketers, it allows them to integrate their marketing communication campaigns to a degree not possible before. It also enables them to tailor communication in this age of choice to exactly what their customer wants, leading to stronger brands and higher customer loyalty. That’s the power of print outsourcing.