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Distribute First, Then Print, Especially in Stormy Weather

Mark VrunoMark Vruno

Jan16_Blog_main

For large and national marketers, casting a wide net can cut days from print timelines and safeguard against delivery disasters.

We knew they were coming. Still, when the wind whipped and winter storms hit hard the weekend of January 22, 2016, areas from Tennessee to Connecticut got pounded with ice, snow and flooding. Many businesses were paralyzed, literally frozen in their tracks, unable to move products, including printed pieces, to where they needed to go.

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If you conduct business on a national scale, for example, there are print providers with networks spanning the United States. They can streamline your process and cut days from print and delivery times –despite frightful weather conditions.

Printing on demand and only what you need are almost givens in today’s fast-paced marketing environments. And while local control is nice, there are inherent risks associated with centralized printing models, which can stress a single network outputting high volumes. The more obvious problem is if an offset or digital printing press breaks down mechanically, rendering jobs unfinished. Meanwhile, natural disasters like fires and other accidents can incapacitate a print firm for extended periods of time. Even for more temporary set-backs, such as inclement weather, using a wider print network mitigates risk.

Jan16_Blog_bFor all types of printing, from bound documents and presentations to conference materials, multi-plant print service providers (PSPs) have the ability to distribute files first, then reproduce work at one or more of a number of manufacturing facilities, delivering most jobs in one or two days. “Smart” job routing and economies of scale can help to save as much as 60% over in-house and local printing alternatives, claim some larger PSP networks, many of which have no minimum or maximum order quantities.

Most of such distribute-then-print solutions allow marketers to preview their documents online, with selected binding options (if applicable), before the ink or toner actually meets the paper, vinyl or other substrate. Document libraries can offer lifetime file storage for future reprints and/or revisions. Customer support is strong, too, with email, phone and even live-chat contact options often available 24/7.

Let It Snow

In 2015 a large retailer with thousands of locations had, for three months, coordinated an event with its marketing agency and a small, local printing firm. But three days prior to ship date, blizzard-like conditions ensued. Afraid that the well-planned event wouldn’t happen, the retailer turned to a PSP with multiple production facilities for help. The print provider was able to turn around the job less than three days after receiving the files. Components were produced closest to the point of need, with color consistency and quality.Jan16_Blog_main4

Even when the weather turns mild and balmy, faster time to market always matters in these ultra-competitive times. The speed of doing business seemingly increases with each passing day. And the world is getting smaller every day, too, which is precisely why distributive print may be the answer to your firm’s needs.

Mark Vruno is chief editor of Printing News magazine. Based in Chicago, he has reported on the commercial print industry for more than 20 years and also has written for related publications and websites, including Editor & Publisher, News & Techand Package Design. Previously, Vruno was executive editor of Graphic Arts Monthly and Graphic Arts Online. He has also spent several years in marketing, public relations and corporate communications, working for such firms as RR Donnelley, Banta, Agfa Graphics and Fujifilm Graphic Systems USA.

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