Winning The Balancing Act Between Cost And Innovation-The Agency Civil War

Published On: October 20, 2015

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Creative, Design and Ad agencies are tasked with creating new direct mail campaigns or designing packaging that is fresh, memorable and innovative–something that no one else has done before. However, at the same time, budgets are rigid. This can often lead to internal struggles and a ‘civil war’ between creative, design  and buying teams  who fundamentally are put at cross purposes. How can agencies, who are expected by their clients to come up with new ideas, then balance their search for innovative concepts while keeping costs in check?

The answer? Working with an experienced packaging or direct mail supplier.

Here’s how advertising, design and creative agencies can win this balancing act when partnering with innovative print and packaging suppliers:

Tap into/Collaborate Early On with Suppliers

Creative, ad, and design agencies can sometimes work in isolation when generating a new direct mail piece or revamping an existing product packaging design. This isolation often results in designs that are not structurally feasible, packaging creations that surpass budgets, or designs that can miss the mark all together. Even small factors like list hygiene and ensuring deliverability of your direct mail piece are often overlooked resulting in wasted efforts, overextended budgets or a failed campaign (the ultimate cost driver).

By partnering with your print or packaging supplier early on in the process, you can get new ideas upfront and ensure that the emerging concepts will meet all necessary requirements. More importantly, an experienced print and packaging supplier will be helpful in guiding you through design ideas and finding optimal production, fulfillment, assembly and mail stream solutions for your vision. Additionally, finding cost-effective options or alternatives to certain print effects means a successful project on budget. Whether it’s a structural question, a printability question, or a substrate question, your supplier can be a great help if they are involved early on in the process.

Select Substrates with the End in Mind

A common challenge that agencies often come across is choosing the right substrates for their specific needs. The substrate cost often more than 50% of the entire print/packaging project cost. Without guidance from a print or packaging supplier, creatives, designers and production teams can inadvertently spec a more expensive substrate or not know the alternatives to their choice.

The cost of the substrate is not all that needs to be considered, either. A higher-end, luxury substrate such as leatherette, linen, or wood veneer may not just incur additional expenses in the sense that the substrate itself is more expensive, but it can also run up the costs in production, depending on the desired effects.

Another factor most designers often overlook is the availability of substrates. While some substrates are readily available, others require special orders that can easily delay production and market entrance for weeks or even months.

Working with an experienced print and packaging supplier allows agencies to ask questions and bounce ideas back and forth before making decisions. A supplier can easily suggest an alternate substrate and check on availability to ensure project timelines are met. If it’s a specific look you’re trying to achieve, a packaging supplier may also be able to suggest coatings or finishes that can give the same look as the desired substrate but can be achieved at lower cost.

Take Advantage of Technology

Just like creatives, designers and production teams know their craft, so do print and packaging suppliers. An often-overlooked advantage of working with an innovative print supplier is that they offer the latest, most cutting edge technology needed to achieve cost effective innovation and the look to further elevate and enhance your offering to your clients.

Knowing whether a particular press is available to apply multiple coatings in one single pass, for example, can mean that a project can be completed more efficiently, with fewer passes and be more economical for a higher end result. This technology can potentially eliminate steps in a traditional production schedule, minimize the required passes on a press, and improve quality.

Understanding the capabilities of the latest print technology can be a great asset to any design agency. The right equipment or production method can bring cost savings with new creative freedom.

Pushing the Limits on Creativity

Project budgets often limit the creative potential of direct mail and packaging designs, resulting in uninspired, ineffective designs that can often be more costly in the long run. If innovation is key for your next project or design, start by finding a supplier that has a proven record of pressing the limits on innovation and creativity. Finding that right supplier can help you push the limits on creativity. Whether that means a new approach to your design, unexpected substrates, inventive production methods, or print technology, an experienced print and packaging supplier can help you innovate without breaking the bank.

If you’re looking for innovative approaches to print and packaging, contact one of our print or packaging specialists and discover how JohnsByrne has been pressing the limits on innovation for over 50 years.

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