Spread the good news in color to gain attention and responses

Low-cost color printing allows leaders to strengthen communication and enhance stewardship.

By David Murphy

As communicators, what result do we want from our readers? Whether inside or outside the church, we all seek to inform, educate, or persuade as we communicate to others. Within the weekly messages to parishioners, church communicators hope to increase involvement, attendance, membership and overall contribution. We want readers of our communications to retain our messages, increase their responsiveness and inspire them to take action.

To effectively produce our inspirational and informative communications, we know that the use of color is critical to tapping into human emotion and memory and to the improvement of the learning process. Numerous studies by Loyola University, Chicago, IL, and others have revealed that messages printed in color are 78 percent more likely to be remembered and that comprehension of facts improves by up to 73 percent when they are presented in color.

We all watch color TV and read magazines and newspapers in color. Why should the church have to communicate the world’s most important message in black and white simply because of cost? That’s not a good enough reason when we know how important it is that our message gets through to the reader.

Beware of small, slow devices

Low-priced (sometimes free) personal printers from “big-box” electronics stores are not the answer, but they can be found in every church office. These small, slow devices may have hardware costs of only $99 or $199, but their real operating costs can be prohibitive for a sizeable congregation. With a color ink cartridge cost of about $36, many people don’t realize that the yield averages only 300 pages or so, which results in a cost-per-page of 12 cents or more.

Alternatively, some churches have decided to buy pre-printed full-color bulletin covers or shells from church supplies vendors and then copy the weekly text in-house on a black and white copier. Not only is that method slow and tedious, it is also costly, as these pre-printed shells tend to cost 10 to 12 cents each.

In recent years, purchase prices of color copiers, printers and MFPs (multi-function printers) have declined to more attractive levels, allowing more churches to be able to afford color printing. But how affordable are they? Most color copiers and MFPs have cost-per-copy charges of six to eight cents. At an average cost-per-copy of seven cents, a church printing 1,000 two-sided bulletins or newsletters would spend about $140 on copy charges, plus the cost of paper. During the course of 52 Sundays, those costs exceed $7,200.

In addition to the operating costs of color copiers church administrators also need to consider their reliability and durability in handling high volumes. Copiers use a heat process to fuse toner to the paper and as volumes increase, so do paper jams and equipment service calls. Unfortunately, as many church administrators and office volunteers have learned, these machine breakdowns often occur on a Friday morning about half way through the bulletin print run.

Special process runs cool

Friendship-West Baptist Church, Dallas, TX uses a new RISO HC5500 printer. The printing system doesn’t use heat or toner, but rather uses a special inkjet process that runs cool and reliably, with minimal misfeeds and a low operating cost.

Colin Benson, the IT director of Friendship-West, claims that his church staff has been able to convert many of its old black and white documents to full color at no increase in cost. The color operating cost of this inkjet printer averages about half of what most comparable color copiers cost, while black and white cost is about the same as most laser printers.

In today’s challenging economy, church business administrators need to watch their budgets and cut needless expenses more than ever. This trend goes beyond smaller financially challenged congregations. Larger, well-funded churches need to save money on their printing costs too.

David Murphy is the vice president of marketing for RISO Inc., Danvers, MA. [us.riso.com]


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