How To Save Money Printing Online – From An Insider

By Chris Mullen, February 10, 2014

Full Disclosure: I co-found and operate PrintKEG, an online commercial printer and the entity that manages this blog. However, I am confident enough in our print quality, pricing and customer service to write an honest post how people can save money while printing online.

Below, I have listed some tips how to save money with online print companies.

A variety of commercial printer websites

Comparing Prices

First, the most obvious way to save money when printing is by proactively comparing top online print companies. At least compare three different companies before committing. It is also worth suggesting that consumers should not use generic terms such as “printing” but rather “11×17 flyer printing” or “cheap poster printing” or “24×36 custom posters” which helps search engines locate companies that actually focus on those specific products and sizes.

Most companies are cheaper in some product categories over others so be sure to carefully compare prices (including shipping) of exactly what you are receiving and don’t blindly, or emotionally, utilize a company solely on a past transaction. We can agree that most of us are willing to pay extra for better customer service, so I urge most people to steer away from print companies with no guarantees, no pictures, no reviews, no social networks etc.

Always Search

No matter the industry, the savvy shopper should utilize a search engine rather than visiting a company’s website directly. Many print companies offer sales and deals only available to visitors clicking on a sponsored ad. By offering a discount to newcomers, the ad’s ROI (return on investment) improves when a prospect is provided a discount. These discounts are intended for new customers, but shortcomings of coders and marketers opens up valuable opportunities for anyone to save.

PrintKEG prices are the same for everyone and recurring customers are provided special coupons and savings through our newsletter. However, some print companies are more aggressive and growth oriented than others so extra savings may be available. I can now guess why we’re still just small potatoes.

Look For Coupon Codes

Most print companies have coupon codes out there somewhere. By typing something like “Print company name coupon code” there is an excellent chance of discovering extra savings. Sometimes those codes are available on coupon code sites such as RetailMeNot.com or through the print company’s blog and social networking outlets.

Our print company has very few coupon codes, but they’re out there. I might as well give you one now so you don’t start hating on me: BLOGPKPC. This coupon code is good for 10% off postcards and flyers. Most print companies offer coupon codes somewhere so try finding one before placing an order.

Take Advantage of Sales

Once upon a time when I still had hair, I worked for a large retail chain and the main thing I learned was that there is always a sale going on. Retail giants must consistently encourage people to walk into the doors and online companies (especially printers) are no different. Here are three major tactics that work brilliantly.

Large chain has a specific model washer on sale. The matching dryer is not on sale. You still buy the combo. But you didn’t know that same dryer would be on sale next week.

Large chain has three models of the virtually the same washing machine. One of them is always on sale. Look for that model when buying purchasing the combo. The difference may literally be one switch or stripe or color and nothing major.

All sales prices are actually real prices and non-sale products are priced higher on purpose. I hope this company doesn’t utilize this particular practice anymore. I find it still worth noting as I can easily name many businesses boasting 80% off most products which seems questionable.

This specific chain I worked for has a consistent strategy to keep people walking in. Traffic leads to sales in the physical and digital worlds. The point is this: Always buy stuff on sale. Try to be well-planned and wait for sales to occur. This strategy isn’t always possible when strict deadlines (along with other criteria) are in play, but many artists reprint the same stuff so buying only when discounts are available makes sense (unless your print company is consistently cheaper than the pack despite sales and discounts…cough cough).

Abandon Your Cart

My wife utilizes this action all the time. She will create a cart and then sit on it. Some shopping cart platforms have ways for retailers to offer special discounts to abandoned carts. Discounts for abandoned carts can be as high as 30%. Once my wife receives an email notification of the extra savings, she buys.

Cart abandonment is tricky and may not work with items previously discounted or on sale. I don’t recommend passing up a good deal in hopes of receiving a discount later. This could cause you to lose a sales price already attained so be careful.

PrintKEG’s shopping cart simply times out because if we printed for any cheaper, we would owe you money (that was a terrible joke). Honestly, our cart isn’t sophisticated as it should be, nor have our marketing peeps properly assessed whether this would help or hurt our company. Frankly, I’ve opted for PrintKEG to avoid this strategy, and I am unsure how many print companies participate in this practice.

Call Them

Each week we receive a number of calls asking about extra discounts. More often that not, an associate knows of a current special or has knowledge about a new coupon code that isn’t prominent online – so it is worth calling the print company and asking if there are any further discounts available anywhere. For instance, we had one customer call in and ask for free shipping and we met him half way since he recently missed a sale that covered shipping costs.

For a long time we were receiving calls from non-profit organizations so eventually the light flickered, and we created a private coupon code just for them. It doesn’t hurt to simply call your printer and ask for more discounts. I feel awkward telling a customer no, so I try to arm myself with extra savings. What do they say about squeaky wheels?

Sign Up To Newsletters

Almost every single online company has a newsletter (or e-letter). Print companies use these lists to announce specials, coupons and deals to persuade past customers to order again. Some companies shoot emails on a daily basis (which kind of annoys me) while others stick to a weekly deal of some sort. PrintKEG only sends out a mass email maybe twice a month, but the savings are worthwhile. Try signing up to newsletters with the companies you are interested in and always remain informed of their current specials. Opt out of lists that seem to be spamming.

Become a Reseller

Most reputable print companies offer a resellers program of some sort. These programs are designed specifically to serve and maintain recurring customers of almost any type. It doesn’t really matter if you are an actual print broker or an individual artist. Many print companies might require a Federal ID or resale license, but many require little to no documentation. Printkeg and Uprinting are two prime examples of companies with reseller programs that are easy to sign up for. Non-profts are also usually welcome to take advantage of the same programs.

Know What You Want 

I saved the best for last. Knowing what you want is a key element when saving money with printing. Most print companies structure prices based on product and not paper size or media type. For instance, a 4×6 postcard may be less expensive than 4×6 flat cards and 8.5×11 flyers might cost less than 8.5×11 letterhead despite the products being the exact same thing. Prices are based on customer perception and is widely adopted by print companies. This doesn’t mean we are all being shady or trying to pull a fast one.

We’ve got customers using postcards for invitations who also print vinyl posters rather than banners. Many people print business letterhead from our flyers page and some people just won’t order an 11×17 flyer, but they love printing 11×17 posters. In many cases, choosing a different product can literally save hundreds even in cases of small runs.

Conclusion

Play around. Try looking over different products and see how pricing can be finagled. It might save you or your business a bundle of money. I’m thinking a promotion, or at least a raise, is warranted.