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From Karen Saunders

Your Branding, Marketing & Self-Publishing Coach

4 Ways to Save Money on Color Printing

New technological advances in computer software and printing equipment have lowered the cost of printing on certain jobs but you’re faced with high-cost decisions on whether to use 4-color printing or not. Here are 4 suggestions on ways you can save money on color printing.

1. If you need a short full-color run (usually less than 500 sheets), find a printer who offers digital color printing. By using this process, you don’t pay for negatives, make-readies, or plates, and you can print variable data (for example, addresses on post cards). The forerunners were the Xerox DocuColor, a toner-based digital color press and the HP Indigo, an ink-based digital color press. There are many more high tech printing presses now available.

Eye popping tips to save money on color printingEye-Popping Tip: The quality of digital printing has improved to the point that sometimes it is difficult to distinguish digitally-printed pieces from traditional offset printing.

2. Find a printing company that does “gang” printing. This printer usually specializes in certain types of 4-color process jobs, such as business cards, postcards, or 8.5″ x 11″ flyers. They can offer cost savings to customers by printing multiple jobs on one large press at the same time. Each customer shares the expensive 4-color “set-up” costs with all the others on the same job, so everyone’s price goes down.

The disadvantage is that your turnaround time is affected if you have to wait for the other orders to arrive. You also lose the opportunity to choose the paper you want—all jobs are printed on the same large sheet, then cut apart.

Similarly, you lose customized control over your job. For example, you cannot ask the printer to adjust the colors on the press to your specifications. Sometimes unexpected color shifts will occur on your printed piece.

3. Pre-print color “shells” of common, repeating elements. If you have a newsletter, promotional campaign, or other multiple issue publication, you’ll then use these shells for several issues. On the shell you would design a newsletter with your logo, masthead, and tag line in color. Print these elements, leaving white space for the custom information that will appear in each issue.

Have your printer do enough shells for a one-year cycle, then store them and pull from them for each issue. New information gets printed on the shell in black ink. With this option, you only have to pay for color printing once.

4. Use full-color pre-printed papers. This option is recommended only for very short runs on a shoestring budget. It requires weighing the cost savings against the loss of customization and possible loss of quality for your printed piece.

These papers come in a variety of designs for all occasions and in layouts for business cards, trifold brochures, flyers, letterheads, reply-cards, and more. In many cases, matching presentation folders, greeting cards, and thank you notes are also available.

The papers have a graphic “theme” in a frame around each panel, with the center area open for you to add your content. You purchase these papers in packages of 25 to 50 sheets and design your content to fit into the open areas. Put the pre-printed papers in your black and white laser printer or ink jet printer and print the content in black.

A few disadvantages come with this option. You won’t be able to edit or move the color graphics because they’re already printed. The business cards are perforated and may be printed on paper that isn’t as thick as you might like. Be aware that perforated business cards may look “cheap” and the pre-printed designs may look familiar because they come from artwork that is “stock” and not original to you.

The use of color will make your marketing materials more attractive, persuade more prospects and convert more sales. Nowadays you can be creative with your printing solutions without spending a lot of money.

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