The 2021 Digital Color Pricing Study, one of the printing industry’s most popular studies, has just been released by NPRC and is available in the NPRC Bookstore.
This new study features average, median and per unit pricing for products such as envelopes, 8, 16 and 32-page newsletters, envelopes and carbonless forms, rack cards and postcards, as well as dozens of other popular digital products.
If you’re a “profit leader” in this industry, or you aspire to be one, then this report is a “must-have” document. Profit leaders recognize how important it is monitor and keep-up with pricing in the industry. They know that pricing products too high can lose them jobs, while pricing jobs too low can impact their bottom line!
NPRC’s newest pricing study can be ordered now in the bookstore with most orders being processed in two hours or less!
“This year’s study is more accurate than ever,”notes John Stewart, NPRC Executive Director. “Pricing for every product has been double-checked and then checked again for outliers. The result is a study that contains extremely accurate pricing data that printers can count on as being truly representative of current national pricing,” adds Stewart. “One of the things we stress year-after-year is that the greatest variation in pricing occurs at the local level, and not at the regional or national level as many printers often believe,” cautions Stewart.
“We know, with a high degree of certainty, that pricing for many products within a small town or city can vary by as much as 30-35% and even more, and yet the national or regional average price for that same product will rarely vary by more than 4-6%.”
“We hate to hear printers claim that ‘price are different’ in their market, as compared to national pricing when we know absolutely that is not true,” explains Stewart. “We know with a high degree of certainty that pricing for many products within a small town or city can vary by as much as 30-35% and even more, and yet the national or regional average price for that same product will rarely vary by more than 4-6%.” Stewart adds.
Average Sales Per Employee among all 196 participants average $133,892 while the median SPE was $126,667. This represents an approximate drop in SPE of approximately 5% as compared to what was reported in the summer of 2019.
The 2021 Digital Pricing Studyprovides both average and median pricing for specific quantities as well as per unit pricing. This year’s report also features “Average/Median Deviation” data calculated as a percent to demonstrate the accuracy of the data collected.
The chart above is typical of the type of data available in NPRC’s latest study. The national average for 1M, 4/4 6×9″ Postcards is $346 with the median at $333., a pricing deviation of less than 4%.
Earlier this week (April 8-10, 2019) we posted a graph and some summary comments regarding a survey conducted by RIT in 2003. We encouraged reader feedback and while we did receive two comments, we are looking for additonal feedback that we can post here.
Click artwork to download 2-p PDF
In the meantime, we have obtained permission from the original author to reprint the entire 2-page article. You need to read this article with an open-mind, rather than through some heavily tinted glasses that always seem to blame pricing for all your woes. Way too many printers often cite “pricing” as the primary cause for their lack of growth, poor profits, and the lack of customer loyalty, just to name a few.
If printers could only hear themselves talk sometimes. If they did they would realize that they use “pricing” as an excuse for their troubles. They blame printing brokers, low ball competitors down the street as well as the lack of loyalty from their own customers. If these printers did a little bit more probing, they would possibly discover that it really wasn’t pricing that caused their customers to leave, but things like consistent failure to meet deadlines, sometimes poor quality and less than friendly CSRs.
Yes, we would love to do this survey all over again and see what has changed and what has remained the same, but getting our hands on a representative list of prospects to whom we could mail would represent a real challenge. Any ideas>
A few days ago we were making a fruitless attempt to clean up our office when I came across something that’s been up on my bulletin board for at least 15 years. It is an article that was published in Graphic Impressions magazine in 2003. The title of the article was: “The Top Questions Creative Agencies and Print Buyers Ask Of Potential Print Providers.” The subhead was just as intriguing – In a Digital, On-Demand World, It’s About Much More than Price.
Authored by Bob Wagner,who at the time worked for the Xerox Corporation, the article discussed a survey conducted by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 2003. The survey was distributed to 250 creative advertising and design agencies in 2003. Yes, I recognize that is 15 years ago, but I believe the findings are as accurate today, if not more so, as they were in 2003. If you disagree with that conclusion let me know by using the email link below.
Those surveyed were asked to rank each of eight factors or considerations that typically go in the decision-making practice of selecting one printer over another. Buyers were asked to grade each factor on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most important criteria in selecting a printer. The graph below illustrates the findings of that survey.
I think if printers were to take this survey, they would rank “pricing” much higher.
I’ve always found this article fascinating because it has confirmed one of my theories on pricing – one of which being that an average print buyer, presented with a list of valid selection criteria, will inevitably select factors other than price as being the primary or #1 factor for selecting one printer versus another.
Unfortunately, many printers concentrate so much on price that they fail to realize they could be charging more for their services and products if they promoted other factors as strongly as they do “Price.” I can understand why many printers concentrate on “Price” because to be blunt they oftentimes rank quite low on some of the other, more important factors cited by print buyers.
This job was due four hours ago.
Are you really dependable? Many printers “talk” a good game when it comes to dependability but they often perform really poorly. They are not dependable, and it is “hit or miss” for the average customer. They drop by the shop at 3 p.m. to pick-up the job they were promised only to be told it isn’t quite ready. If the truth were known, they job that was ready to be sent to the digital printer at 10 a.m. still hasn’t been sent, and it needs to be cut and folded when it is finished. The fact that the job isn’t ready often doesn’t seem to phase the staff and the reason for that is that no one in the company considers deadlines that critical.
What about “print quality?” Given today’s digital technology, it would seem hard to get a failing or low grade in this area, but some printers prove that it can be done! Many firms get a passing grade on the printing side, only to end up failing when it comes to finishing and packaging.
What about “turn-around Time?” Many printers prefer to stick to traditional time-worn schedules rather than demonstrating to customers how quickly the job can be turned around. It is frustrating to watch owners and top CSRs set delivery dates as far out as possible, not because the firm is that busy, but rather to avoid complaints from the graphics department or the back shop that the promised delivery dates are pushing the system. Really? Give us a break.
Ease of doing business? Believe it or not, many firms are not that easy to deal with but they don’t even realize it. Sometimes it seems like there’s a constant battle going on between the customer, the CSRs and the production team in back. The interactions between a customer and the printing staff ought to be a fun experience, not a struggle or clash of personalities. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what print buyers often report when it comes to calling up their printer to discuss an upcoming project.
We welcome your feedback. Send us an email at [email protected] and give us your feedback. We would love to gather your opinions and share them with others. Have a great day.
Wife Needs Help With Pricing
24-Page Booklet With Cover
By John Stewart, Executive Director NPRC
Last week Mary (my wife) came into my office and asked me to help her price a 24-page booklet. A woman had just come into the shop and asked for a quote and Mary needed to get back to the customer quickly. She asked me for help in working up a price. “Of course I can,” I said. “I’m the expert on stuff like this. In fact, I can even sell you a copy of the latest 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study at a heavily discounted price.”
“Oh shut up,” she said. “Just work out the price for me and then you can go back and play with your Excel files.” she added. With no real options to consider, I grabbed a nearby copy of the pricing study and started jotting down some notes.
“Oh shut up,” she said. “Just work out the price for me and then you can go back and play with your Excel files.” she added.
The problem with using many of the pricing studies that we have published over the years is the fact that no matter how extensive they are, it is virtually impossible to find a nice, neat answer for every job, every quantity and every size that comes in the front door.
Why? Because there is no way our pricing studies (or any pricing study for that matter) can anticipate every possible scenario. Cover or no cover? Finished size 5.5 x 8.5 or 8.5 x 11”? Bleed or no bleed? How many pages? And of course, what’s the finished quantity? Also, what kind of delivery time is the customer requesting?
It is virtually impossible to provide easy-to-read tables that can provide pricing for all the possible scenarios. What often ends up happening is that we end up using interpolation and other simple math tricks to arrive at our best estimate for a job, using data available in one of these pricing studies.
As we often note in the introduction to pricing studies – the prices we report are not necessarily “prices as they should be, but rather prices as they are.” There’s a big difference. Nonetheless, the average and median prices we present in this and other studies tend to represent “fair market” pricing for the products we survey, especially if you are interested in comparing your price to what others might charge for the same job!
Mary’s Specific Project
I asked Mary to give me the specifics and I would help her come up with a price. Here’s what she provided:
A 24-page booklet with a separate cover. (6 11×17 signatures, 4/4 on 100# coated text and a 4/4 cover on 100# coated cover.) No bleeds. Saddle stitched with a face trim.
Quantity: 750 copies
Normal, 4-5 day turn-around required
Ok, so I grabbed a copy of the 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study and dove in. First, I checked pages 58 and 59 where we report pricing for newsletters & booklets. The first problem, is that while we provide pricing for 16-page booklets and 32-page booklets, we don’t report pricing for 20-page or 24-page booklets so we would have to do some interpolation with the prices that were provided.
Mind you, when we report pricing for specific quantities and sizes of booklets, we provide a lot of info like average and median pricing for completed quantities, pricing per individual book and we even suggest a range in pricing within which you are probably “safe” to quote. We call it a “majority low” and “majority high” range. Nonetheless, we cannot provide pricing for every possible size and format. Sometimes, that’s up to the reader to tackle.
Second problem, although once again minor, is that while we may provide pricing for quantities such as 100, 500, 1M and 2.5M booklets, we don’t report pricing for 250 or 750 booklets. Another interpolation being required.
* With a 24-page booklet being precisely between a 16-page and a 32-page in terms page quantity, it was simple math to add the lower quantity price and the higher quantity price and then divide the total by 2. Some folks might consider using a weighted average, but that’s probably overkill for most.
Ok, we’ve got pricing for the right size of booklet, but we don’t have pricing for the right quantity. Once again, at least in this case, we turned to simple match to calculate the price for 750 copies. We kept it simple. ($2,616 + $4,588)/2). The final answer for a quantity of 750, 24-page booklets with a separate cover was $3,602 or $4.80 per book.
Finished? Not quite! When you start looking at all the pricing information available just on these two pages it can be overwhelming. Is some of the pricing data skewed by a few high numbers in our data base? Possible but not likely, but we nonetheless offer both average and median numbers so that folks can consider modest differences in those two prices. The median price is sometimes a safer bet, but the averages are typically what we use. Sometimes (as in this example) the difference between the average and median price at the 500 quantity was less than $150 or about $0.20 cents per book.
Someone looking at just these two pricing pages (pages 58 & 59) would also see that we offer a “majority low” and “majority high price” as well – thus throwing another variable into the pricing mix.
Mary’s Final Price
Ok, so what did Mary finally decide to go with after looking at the $3,602 price I provided? After looking at that price and considering various alternative prices, she decided to go with $3,189 or $4.25 per book.
How did she select that final price to quote? In all honesty, she says she sort of used her gut instinct, then reached up into the air and came down with that final price. Less than two hours transpired between the time the customer first walked in the door and the time Mary emailed her with the final price. Within 15 minutes the customer email Mary and gave her the Ok to proceed. They stressed the fact that it was definitely needed by Friday end of day.
A bit of background is in order. The client is a fairly large Baptist church that does an amazing amount of outreach and fundraising for charitable projects around the world. Although Mary and I are not Baptists, we found ourselves agreeing and admiring how much outreach this church does around the world. The church plans to distribute these booklets this weekend to solicit contributions for its ongoing efforts. Looking at the dozens of photos demonstrating all their projects and outreach, even Mary and I were impressed.
The woman who originally brought the job to us to quote apparently had full authority to make the final decisions. As it turned out, we surmised, based upon teh fast response and Ok to our quote, that we were the only vendor they had turned to – whether it was due to our reputation or a reference we will probably never know. By the way, this is a good time to note that not every customer in every market is looking for the lowest price. Far from it, despite all the naysayers out there that keep insisting how their markets are different and that most customers are only concerned with price.
By the way, I also know that some of the good marketing experts out there would also be yelling and screaming at us that we should follow-up and ask what else can we do for them. We didn’t and probably won’t.
Oh, by the way, this article is being written on Thursday, Oct. 18th. The job was due tomorrow. I just checked with Mary and asked her how the job is coming. Remember, I have no day-to-day involvement with the operations of our small printing firm, so I know very little about what is going on most of the time. Mary told me that the job was actually picked up about an hour ago (24 hours earlier than promised) and the customer was really pleased.
Second Thoughts & Fears
If you’ve been in this industry for 10 years or more there are always lingering fears and questions when running what for us is a fairly large job.
The nightmare scenario has always been receiving a phone call from the client within 30 or less after have delivered the job. When someone announces Mrs. Smith is on the line nobody wants to talk to her about the job because we assume the worse, like a complaint about missing signatures, or a misplaced photo or one entire signature being out of place in the booklet. Yes, that happens, but then again they sometimes just call you to thank you for a job well done.
Of course, there is always the second guessing about the price. Would we have gotten the Ok to print had we quoted an extra $200 or $300? The answer in this case is almost a definite “Yes.” Nonetheless, we know the price was inherently fair. As it turned out, it actually ran much smoother than expected, even with a couple of minor problems with our booklet maker.
NPRC has releasedits highly anticipated 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study. This new 100+ page report offers up average and median pricing for dozens of color digital products and services in the printing industry. Data on digital pricing is provided in various formats, including average and median prices for a range of quantities, plus in many cases the price per booklet, sheet or in some cases per signature.
“Hello John, I just had to let you know how impressed I was with the Digital Pricing Study you just released. While I only spent 30 minutes going over the study, my initial impression is that the quality of this study is as good if not better than previous studies. Thanks for the hard work you and NPRC put into these studies, The printing industry is better off because of studies such as this.” Armand Girard, Curry Printing & Marketing, Auburn, ME
To NPRC, “An excellent study. It is great to see what other printers are charging for the same products and be able to compare those prices in an organized fashion.” Kevin Williams, Systems Print & Mail, Laguna Hills, CA
Cover of New Pricing Study
Publication Price… PDF Copies… $179.00
Hard Copies… $191.00
NPRC Member Pricing PDF Pricing… $89.50 Hard Copies… $95.50
Discover what fellow printers from around the country are charging for…
• Graphic Services – Standard and Complex
• Variable Data 4/4 cards (sizes 4.25 x 5.5 and 5.5 x 8.5)
• Flat sheets, 100# Text & Cover (finished sizes 8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17)
• Rack Cards – 4/0 and 4/4, finished size 4 x 9, full-bleed
• 2-Part and 3-Part Carbonless forms, plain and numbered
• Click Charges Only for quantities ranging from 500 to 5,000!
• 16-page and 32-page newsletters (qtys. 100 – 2,500)
• 32-page Booklets – finished size.5 x 8.5 (qtys. 100 – 2,500)
• #10 and 9 x 12 Envelopes – Blk only and 4-C (qtys. 100 – 2,500)
• Plus many, many other prices with majority high-low guidelines
Special Note to Survey Participants – Please note that printing firms who participated in our Digital Color Pricing survey receive an email and link for downloading the FREE PDF of the study on Dec. 2oth and Dec. 21st, 2017. Please check your trash and deleted folders as well as your spam folders if you are unable to find the email used to distribute this study. The subject line used to advise participants was: “Urgent – Here’s Your 2018 Digital Color Pricing Study.”
Sometimes we seem to hear more complaints that compliments, no matter how hard we work… so, when we get a short email offering praise we are not going to let it slip quietly into the night <g>. Instead we want to share it with you:
“Hi John, just a short note to thank you so much for what you and NPRC do. It has always been worth the few minutes it takes to do your surveys in order to get the wealth of information your reports provide. From which machines perform best and their features, to salary/wages and possibly most important – pricing! It is all great information to help us run our business.”
Jennifer R. Jordan, Jorndan Enterprises, Inc. SD Visual Images Marlborough, MA