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Refocusing on Organizational Strengths: Is it Time to Outsource Print Production?

Whether for marketing, billing, or other purposes print still plays a prominent role in the corporate communications space. The amounts that American corporations dedicate to print production are still robust – coming in at around 3% of revenue for Global 2000 companies, according to the Printing Industries of America, the world’s largest graphics arts trade association.

Whether that spend is on marketing materials like brochures, catalogs, direct mail, packaging, point-of-sale items, or for transactional purposes like financial or insurance statements, provider directories, EOBs or any other variety of printed collateral – American corporations are spending an estimated $150 billion per year on it all.

For a growing number of reasons, keeping all this in-house is becoming increasingly untenable for corporations across industries. Below, we’ll look at the evolving drivers behind print outsourcing, and the benefits of doing so.

Evolving Drivers of Print Outsourcing

For years the predominant feeling was that print would entirely disappear from the corporate communications space. To date this has proven false. What has actually occurred is that almost every business is looking to focus more resources on digital and social channels when it comes to marketing and customer service, while retaining the option of printed communications for customers who prefer them. As these focuses shift, it makes less sense to stock and staff an in-house print operation for large-scale marketing and transactional print runs.

A shifting communications paradigm is not the only reason more print is being sent off-site to third-party print providers. Due to many factors, an increasing number of companies are outsourcing necessary, yet non-core work. Commonly outsourced functions in 2017 include information management, customer service, and some HR tasks.

Print is quickly becoming another area that enterprises are honing in on to cut costs, and to refocus on what drives the most ROI for the enterprise. In fact, the National Association of Purchasing Managers considers outsourcing print to be one of the biggest opportunities for reducing business costs. This is because the entirety of a print program can be decentralized from the very beginning. Just consider the marketing function of a corporate print program to illustrate. Internal marketing teams may procure what they need on their own, while external agencies are handling other procurement activities – leading to miscommunications and supply surpluses.

This over-ordering of materials is just one way that print budgets can be mishandled by companies that specialize in an area other than print. Outsourcing then offers a more cost-effective way to approach the sourcing of print materials. But that’s far from the only way that outsourcing print production can benefit enterprises across industries.

Benefits of Outsourced Print

When evaluating the various print outsourcing options that are available, the benefits are most pronounced when you partner with an outsourcer who can provide end-to-end support, including print, mail, finishing, inventory management, procurement, and fulfillment.

This way, the provider can handle your communication needs in a holistic manner, likely providing the most cost savings when compared to an internal production center, or working with multiple vendors. Beyond assuming responsibility for the labor intensive, highly specialized procurement, production, distribution, and finishing work that is required to handle professional-grade, large-scale print runs, other benefits of outsourcing print to a an end to end provider include:

  • Cost Savings: Some of the ways outsourcing print production saves money include expert analysis of material usage, the ability to right-size in-house operations which saves on equipment and maintenance costs, and by providing access to an on-demand production center, enabling you to use materials as efficiently as possible.
  • Increased Sales Support Opportunities: Accurate, high-quality communications delivered in a timely manner across customer’s preferred channels help to drive sales. Working with an outsourced print provider helps you get your materials into your customer’s and prospect’s hands when they request it, and when your products are fresh in their minds.
  • Access to Expertise & Equipment: Investing in top-of-the-line print production equipment can be prohibitively expensive for enterprises who do not specialize in print. But when you partner with an outsourcer who does, you not only gain access to world-class equipment, but also to deep industry expertise and best-practices that have been developed through decades of print experience.
  • Accountability & Control: Especially when working with a single source, end-to-end provider, you’ll gain a single point of contact to handle all your print production needs, helping you control messaging and compliance for your brand in a straightforward, simple manner.
  • A More Focused Internal Operation: While every business needs print, few specialize in it. Getting as much non-core work off of your premises, and onto the docket of an outsourcer is a proven way to focus operations on the work your enterprise does specialize in.

By consolidating your print activities – from procurement, to production, finishing, and distribution – you streamline your communication processes substantially while likely creating cost-savings, and freeing your staff to focus on what they specialize in. While print outsourcing may not be right for every enterprise, when you look at the drivers that are pushing more print off-site, and also the benefits of doing so – it’s certainly worth a look. 

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