Many businesses and organizations utilize a wide variety of printed marketing and outreach materials to promote their businesses, products, and programs.

As a rule of thumb, if you are printing fewer than 1,000 of any given printed pieces, and if you are printing on paper weights of 100lb card stock or lighter, you likely have the capability to print on your companies in house, color copier which in most cases will be far less expensive than outsourcing to a commercial printing company.

Not only is the cost per printed page generally far lower when printing on your in-house color copy machine, it also eliminates the need to print a higher volume than that which is immediately needed.

5 factors to consider when determining whether to outsource or use your existing color copier.


The Thickness and Type of Paper Stock

The-Thickness-and-Type-of-Paper-StockDepending on the thickness of the paper required to produce a given marketing piece and the model of color copier you have in your office, you may and may not have the capability to print on certain types and thicknesses of paper. Most business-class color copiers can print on paper weight up to 90lb card stock and some models are even heavier, and most of these same color copiers are very adept and printing on most glossy or coated paper stocks. In the event you are looking to print on paper stocks more than 100lb card stock i.e., 14point or 16point weight, this may require that you outsource to a commercial printer.


The Number or Volume of Prints Needed

As many companies have found, when choosing a commercial printing company, one is often motivated to print a higher volume of materials than immediately needed to get a lower, per sheet rate and to eliminate the need to return to the commercial printing company for a second print run. However, by printing more than is needed, common knowledge tells us that over 80% of all commercially printed marketing materials are never used because people print more than needed and the materials become obsolete. Obviously, when printing on your in-house color copier, you can print the number you need at any given time with the comfort of knowing you can always print more if necessary.


The Total Production Cost

At the end of the day, the total price to get your materials printed is an important factor to consider. When determining the price, one can consider the actual printing cost and the time and labor needed to achieve the result. In most cases, it is less expensive to print marketing materials on your existing, in-house color copier since the per-page printing rate is less on an in-house copier and there is no motivation to print a higher number of materials than that immediately needed. You will want to consider the two factors shown below to make sure your existing color copier has all of the functionality to handle the finishing and distribution of your materials.


The Complexity of the Finishing

The-Complexity-of-the-Finishing-Is-An-Important-Factor-to-ConsiderAmongst the reasons you might consider using a commercial printing company is the wide range of finishing options available that you may not have on your in-house color copying system, including but not limited to, binding, trimming, or cutting your materials to size, full-bleed printing, laminating etc. The need for any one of these “finishing” options may be enough to merit the consideration of using a commercial printing company rather than your company’s in-house color copier.


Bonus Tip 1

Many color copiers have an option to add a booklet finisher that will fold and add a 2-point saddle stitch staple to your printed booklets which can be a favorable alternative to binding.


Bonus Tip 2

To avoid the necessity for trimming or cutting your materials, you can design your marketing materials with a white background. Not only will a white background effectively eliminate the “void” area around the border of the prints, “which is that which requires trimming” it is also a commonly held belief that your color imagery and text will stand our better on a white background than any other color.


Bonus Tip 3

If you decide that you do want an edge-to-edge (full bleed) color background which can only be accommodated by trimming, you can still print the documents on your in-house color copier and then you can take the entire stack of printed sheets to a commercial printer who generally offer a trimming service where they will trim off the void edges at a charge of approximately $5.00 – $10.00 per cut on a stack of up to 1,000 sheets at a time. (That means it would cost $20.00 – $40.00 to have up to 1,000 printed copies trimmed to result in an edge-to-edge color output.)


The Distribution Method for the Printed Piece

The-Distribution-Method-for-the-Printed-Piece-Is-Also-An-Important-Factor-To-DiscussIf you plan to do a direct mailing of the marketing or outreach materials that are being printed, this may make it worthwhile to use a commercial printing company that can give you a single point of contact to print your marketing materials, incorporate a mail merge and offer a bulk mail rate, all with a single point of contact.

In summary, if you are printing 1,000 or less of any given piece of marketing material, and you are using paper stock that’s not in excess of 100lb card stock and you don’t have a need for binding, laminating or direct mailing, your best, most affordable and convenient option is likely to use your existing, in-house color copier.