Guest Column: How Can You Do More With Less?
In all industries today, staffs are getting leaner, with more work given to remaining staff. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ink-on-paper magazine world.
While traditional magazines create the brands that drive their digital editions and websites, the digital world will garner the advertising dollars of tomorrow. Magazines only will survive this economic slump if they have the foresight to evolve into media companies serving a specific community with common interests—and do so on a multimedia platform.
Staff needs will be weighted toward departments responsible for bringing in revenue. So what do we, the ink-on-paper people, do to reduce costs, stretch budgets, and still maintain quality and brand image? We outsource.
Consortium Purchasing: Is It Right for You?
Admittedly, outsourcing can be carried to the extreme. Playboy, for example, outsources everything except edit and art. My recommendation would be to start at the most easily outsourced function—production—via a consortium or cooperative buying.
A consortium is defined as "a group formed to undertake an enterprise beyond the resources of any one member." Consortiums are being formed to increase the buying power of single-title and small, multipublication firms.
Paper is the first item that consortiums usually tackle, mainly because it is a publication's largest material expense—especially if that publication buys paper from its printer. Printers like to say that their buying power dwarfs that of a single publication and, in most cases, it does. However, the savings are most often not passed on (in part or in entirety) to the publication, because paper is both a profit and a cost center for printers, as inventory management is labor-intensive and time-consuming.
The weight of a consortium's members benefits negotiations and ensures that an experienced professional handles the negotiations.
We started the Dwell Consortium to increase the buying power of single titles for print, paper and prepress. In the wake of industrywide staff cuts, we evolved into a full production-service option—offering services that would take a publication from its native application stage through distribution and fulfillment, using best practices and cutting-edge technology to cut costs, tighten schedules and maximize workflow efficiency.