Have You Tried These Ideas for Cutting Costs from Your Printed Program

Published by Steve Manicor | Topics: Conferences

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ideasWhen it comes to your conference, you’re tasked with finding ways to shave dollars… or maybe better put, your conference budget has been cut and you need to find ways to work within it. Perhaps you’ve already eliminated the printed session handouts, but you can’t really eliminate your printed program books.

Why pay a higher cost for your program when you can pay less?

Since we print hundreds of programs for associations and events, I thought I’d share these ideas for cutting costs.

First, let’s make a few assumptions:

  • The final “on-site” program is not a marketing tool to attract attendees; they’ve already paid and are there.
  • Most attendees throw away their final program after the event because it has nothing of lasting value.
  • You’re struggling to find advertisers willing to pay $1,800 for a half-page ad.

Cutting Cost Out of Your Program Book

  1. Go black. Shift your program from full-color printing on glossy paper to black ink/toner on a standard house stock, but still print a color cover. The fact is, it’s cheaper to print in black than color. The same information you share to attendees like program grids, session info, agendas and evening activities can still be read in black and white. And, by lowering your production cost, you can charge a lower fee to advertise in the book. Hence, you can attract (or keep) advertisers who are spending less on traditional marketing.
  2. Combine session content with the program. Unless your conference binder, proceedings book or meeting handbook is already a hedgehog (a big book), combine those materials with your conference program and create a single publication. You save by not having to pay for separate binding and cover charges. Some of our customers are getting creative by flipping the program content upside down and putting it at the back of the session book. It’s unique way of not having a back cover (because the back cover is really the front cover for the program). It creates a little buzz at your event and saves you money.
  3. Change the specs. We have easily saved our customers 10% to 40% just by changing the specs. I know you’re probably used to doing it like you’ve always done it, but times are changing and your budget likely is, too. Here are a few simple ideas:
    – Use a cover stock that is the same weight as the inside pages
    – Use an offset stock instead of glossy paper
    – Design the book without bleeds. Bleeds mean the printer has to use a larger stock (meaning more cost to you).
    – Print only the ads and VIP pages in color and go black ink for the balance of the pages (see #2 above)
    – Here’s a simple one: reduce pages. Eliminate unnecessary content, tighten margins, and make things a little smaller. Fewer pages equals lower cost.
  4. Produce a spiral-bound Learning Journal/Program instead. If you’re supplying notepads and an expensive full-color conference program, try a Conference Learning Journal. This handy tool contains all the program information, agenda and maps. It might even have brief descriptions and learning objectives of each session. Put all the detailed, expansive session information online. Include about 20 pages of blank paper (with lines for notes). Now, you’ve eliminated the expense of notepads, reduced page count, yet provided the attendee with enough information to make decisions and navigate at your event. Plus, you’ve created a space they can take notes… which means, they won’t be throwing away your program anymore! That little puppy will sit on their desk back at the office as a constant reminder of your awesome event (and marketing will love you for it). And, if you want to include some color pages for VIP’s and advertisements, you can still offer that.

There are many ways to save money, you just have to think a little outside the box. That’s why you need to ask people who are in the business to help out. At Omnipress, our reps have all kind of ideas and will brainstorm with you on different ways to produce your materials and save your organization money.


About Steve Manicor

Steve is Omnipress' Director of Business Development. He has over five years serving the meetings and training industry. He leads our product/service leadership and development teams. ...read more

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October 14th, 2015Dean says:

Great tips here. Any time that you can lower your costs, then you are setting your business up for a bigger return. My favorite tip listed above is: Produce a spiral bound Learning Journal/Program instead.

Thanks for sharing!


March 18th, 2016Hazel Owens says:

I like your tip to change from color to black ink when possible. A lot of people don’t care if the inside of an agenda is in black and white. Plus, like you said, it costs less to advertise with black-ink printing, so you’re less likely to lose advertisers. Thanks for the tips.


April 21st, 2016Westly Smith says:

I think that your first tip is great. Full color printing can cost a lot of money. Personally, I don’t think that it makes that big of a difference. Black and white serves its purpose just as well as coloring. Thanks for the other tips as well!


October 12th, 2016Christina says:

Those spiral bound tips seem useful. Sometimes, a good old printer is needed.

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