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How to Save Money Printing Custom Labels

Jul 29, 2008
Have you ever received a quote for a label or other printed material and thought, "Wow, I never imagined it would be so expensive." As a label printing professional, I am often faced with questions about price, and many times there are more cost effective options available but customers either don't know about it, or printers are unwilling to recommend less expensive methods. That ends today! This article will examine a few tried and true cost saving measures you can incorporate when gathering pricing for your custom labels.

Size Does Matter
Size plays an important role for a few reasons. Generally, the larger the label, the more expensive the finished product will be. If you are flexible, try to use the smallest size possible to communicate your message. Even a small change in size can affect price, especially when printing large volumes. Also, use standard sizes when possible. Standard sizes run more frequently, so printers tend to offer them at a reduced cost over custom sizes. Always ask if there is a standard size close to your desired size. The slight size change can save you a lot of money.

Inks
Do you really need to print four-color process? I know...you have a great design that you have put lots of time and energy into, but you quickly realize printing the labels may require you to take out a second mortgage. So what to do? The obvious answer is make the label one or two colors, especially if it is a "throw-away" label with a short lifespan. Also, use standard inks when possible. It is expensive to match pantone colors or create custom colors, and most printers offer standard ink colors at no additional charge.

How Will the Label be Used?
Another factor is how the label will be used. Will the label be in harsh environments and exposed to water, extreme temperatures or other solvents? Will the label be on a catalog cover offering a special discount? If the conditions are not extreme, most labels can be printed on an inexpensive standard paper stock. If the label will be exposed to harsh conditions, it will be necessary to produce it on a vinyl or polyester stock with lamination for added protection. It does tend to be expensive to print on a heavy-duty stock, but in most cases, it is well worth it because the label's lifespan will be greatly increased. For non-extreme use, stick with a standard paper stock.

Copy Changes
If you need a variety of labels with different graphics or text, use the same size and ink color for each label. While it might not be as exciting, it will save you a lot of money because a printer will be able to run the labels together, resulting in a reduced cost per thousand. Also, if you have a variety of changes for a four-color process printing job, make sure the changes are all in black ink, as the black plate is easiest to change and many printers do not charge for black ink changes.

Price Breaks & Quantities
Price breaks and quantities do play an important role in term of price. It may actually cost less to print 5,000 labels instead of 4,000 labels because the cost per thousand for 5,000 labels is less. In addition, instead of placing orders monthly in small volumes, print higher quantities and store the labels. This will result in a lower cost per thousand and overall savings. Also, some printers will print large quantities, store the labels and ship them to you as needed. Always ask a printer where their price breaks are and get a quote for the closest price break to your desired quantity.

Printing labels can be an economical way to enhance a product, advertise a promotion, correct an error, relay important information, and much more. Don't be afraid to ask printers questions and negotiate price, and of course, consult with a variety of printers to make sure the price you are getting is fair and reasonable.
About the Author
Lauren Hayes is Vice President of Sales for In-Touch Direct, a company specializing in designing and printing custom labels for almost any application. Please visit http://www.intouch-labels.com for more information.
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