Contributed to EO by Vladimir Gendelman, an EO Detroit member and founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc., an award-winning online printing company that has helped over 5,000 businesses print more than 20 million presentation folders. The company made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America for three consecutive years. Vladimir shared his expertise to help entrepreneurs get the most for your printing budget:
People like to say that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and to an extent, that’s true. But as designers, we know that the way something looks has a huge effect on the way others perceive it. A high-quality look rarely comes cheap, especially considering the materials and craftsmanship required for printed collateral.
With more than 20 million folders printed for over 5,000 clients, Company Folders, Inc. is a leader in the folder printing field. They are well-versed in helping savvy designers increase our margins or save money for our clients. These helpful techniques will allow you to lower the cost of your custom pocket folders without skimping on quality.
1. Get wholesale pricing
If you provide design or printing services to a large number of clients, consider asking for a wholesale discount. Typically, this is somewhere in the ballpark of 20 percent, provided you buy a large enough quantity.
Pro tip: Ask about becoming a reseller
Many printers don’t list a “wholesale” feature on their site, but they do offer a reseller program that comes with a similar discount. There are often certain limitations involved, but this will often give you the best price when buying a large quantity.
2. Choose the right imprint method
Not all imprint methods are created equal. PMS ink, four-color process, foil stamping, and embossing all create radically different looks—and they can also have very different prices, depending on how many colors your design contains. If you’re unfamiliar with imprint methods, an expert can point you in the right direction. Ask your printer which imprint method will be the most cost-effective for your particular project. This way, you can avoid paying extra for something you don’t really need.
Pro tip: Choose a folder designed to save money
The beautiful thing about printing is that less truly is more. Sticking to the bare essentials often results in a design that’s more deliberate and less busy—on top of saving you a considerable amount of money. Some printers offer folders with limited customization options, with the trade-off of a major decrease in price. These tend to be the most cost-effective option when you know you want to focus on one particular imprint method and don’t need a bunch of expensive extras.
3. Look for hidden freebies
Certain features come entirely free of charge—and you might not even know about them. Invest some time into exploring all your options and looking into any complementary services your printer offers. If you have access to a free design review, for instance, be sure to take advantage of it.
Pro tip: Add a second pocket to your folder at no charge
When you’re ordering folders, you’re essentially paying for the paper it’s made of; the way in which that paper is cut and folded has a fairly negligible cost. That means you’re really not saving money by restricting yourself to only one pocket; there’s no good reason not to explore two pocket options if you plan to accommodate a large enough number of materials.
4. Order a quantity that fits your budget
If you’re working within a limited budget, you’ll likely want a printer that offers short run folders. But remember that the more you print at once, the most cost-effective they become. A short run of 50 foil imprinted folders might cost around US$7 each, for a total of US$350—a perfectly reasonable price, especially if it’s all you really need. On the other hand, if you order 5,000 folders, you’re looking at something closer to US$1.54 each—a savings of nearly 80 percent. Ordering in bulk also makes you a more valuable customer from your printer’s perspective, which means they’ll work harder to ensure you return with another large order.
Pro tip: Consolidate multiple client orders with a variety of unique presentation folder styles
Printers that offer an extensive variety of sizes and capacities and styles make it easier to fulfill the needs of several clients at once (as opposed to splitting them across several different printers). If you know you’re going to need to place multiple orders for several different clients, leverage that by ordering them simultaneously to save cash.
5. Avoid costly mistakes
Reprinting is very expensive, and a glaring typo or misaligned design element can ruin your entire project if you let it through to production. To avoid costly mistakes associated with printing, make sure you closely review all of your artwork files before sending them to your printer; it will save you a lot of money, time and grief in the long run.
Pro tip: Request a color digital proof
A regular PDF proof gives you a basic idea of how your printed design will look, but it’s not very helpful for judging the accuracy of your design’s color. For four-color process projects, you’ll want to request a digitally printed proof; it’s the best way to ensure that your colors will print the way you’re expecting. With many printers, your first color digital proof is free of charge.
6. Don’t pay for damaged or defective products
Damage and defects are rare if you’re using a high-quality service, but they do happen from time to time—and if you don’t catch them while your products are still under warranty, you’ll have to either accept them as they are or pay for reprinting. As soon as you receive your folders, make sure that you review them for any major problems.
Pro tip: Seek out a lifetime warranty
Reviewing hundreds or thousands of custom printed folders one by one is a tedious, time-consuming process that you probably don’t have the patience for. When the visual quality of your collateral is especially important, make sure the printer you’re using offers a warranty with no final deadline. This way, you can get a replacement or refund any time you discover an error (without spending a lot of extra time searching for problems).
Printing a great-looking presentation folder is easy if you have money to burn. For the rest of us, it requires a bit of extra planning and forethought. Arm yourself with knowledge and make sure you’ve explored as many different money-saving options as possible. Keeping these techniques in mind won’t just help you stay within your budget—it will help you identify the printer that’s positioned to give you the best possible value.