Alternatives to Direct Mail Print Procurement

Whether you’re a membership organisation or retailer running a direct mail campaign, print buying or procurement of your collateral such as magazines or brochures can be costly with so many options available, so clear, unbiased advice is crucial.  

Traditionally it has been a choice between dealing with the printers and contract publishers directly or using a print management firm who take a cut. 

Even when dealing with the printers or contract publishers directly, organisations can either use their own in-house team of marketing or print professionals or engage a marketing agency for all or part of the design process. 

Using an In-House Team

Large organisations with the resources to afford a team of print or marketing professionals, can benefit from an in-house team. These people will understand the organisation’s requirements and what the print need is. The team will be able to consider who the correct designers are (if they don’t also have an in-house design team at their disposal), what materials are required, who the correct printers are to approach, and what the best method of distribution will be. A print team could be a stand-alone team, but they could also be part of a wider marketing team so either way, there are costs associated with employing such a team. 

Marketing Agency

Again, depending on the size of the organisation, there may be an in-house marketing function which outsources the creation of all marketing collateral to marketing agencies. The same print procurement skills may be available at a marketing agency but here is usually a retainer fee and the agency may mark up the cost of the marketing collateral. 

Despite all this design knowledge and expertise, there may be a gap in knowledge around the actual printing procurement process though, so it seems sensible to engage a print management business.

Print Management Businesses

These agencies aim to find the best printing company available for a specific project and can be a large-scale organisation or a sole trader. Print management agencies will often approach organisations with promises of saving them a great deal of money over a period of time. It is an attractive proposition to companies looking to reduce or remove the need for an in-house function. A print management agency will have access to, and knowledge of, many different printing companies and methods of distribution. Print management agencies in general, although not always, will offer a price on a piece of print which will include their mark-up, and are known to continually drive down the prices charged by the printer. 

Design and printing knowledge isn’t always enough when it comes to a successful direct mail campaign though. There’s more to it. 

Has your print provider (in whatever form that might be) come to you and suggested that you should consider your format, material or method of distribution to reduce cost and help the environment?
Do they have complete knowledge of the direct mail process and all its complexities?

It’s not just about the design of the product being mailed out or the price you can get it printed for. These are just two pieces of the direct mail jigsaw puzzle and it may be necessary to use a consultant to provide greater visibility and advice so you can get the whole process right, first time. 


Unlike the print management model mentioned above, ADM offers a holistic, consultancy approach to print procurement. We work with our clients to advise who to approach for printing and postage to achieve the best possible outcome. We appreciate that cost is likely to be the most important driver in the decision-making process but the effects of mailing campaigns on the environment is becoming more important. We can help you balance the cost and environmental impact. Sometimes tweaks to the format and materials used can reduce cost and help the environment at the same time – it’s not always a choice between the two! 

Using our own team of experts, as well as the services of an experienced print industry professional whose experience encompasses all the major forms of printed collateral, we offer a comprehensive consultancy service to support your publishing or marketing teams. 

Our independent advice considers the correct format of printed collateral, the most appropriate degree of personalisation, the use of materials and their effect on the environment, the correct method of postage and distribution and does so in a cost-effective way. We understand the complexities of direct mail and what it takes to get the best possible return on your investment, whatever your aims may be. Direct mail is like a jigsaw puzzle and one size doesn’t fit all. It’s more than design and print and mailing in an environmentally sensitive way doesn’t always have to mean higher costs. 


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