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Wittmania Blog

The Real Cost of Black and White Printing

O'Hare Neon Tunnel
The use of color in O’Hare
International Airport

While I wouldn’t always put it this way, one of the most important parts of my job is helping clients avoid doing something stupid. Or, put another way, I spend a lot of time and energy helping clients get to the point where they’re able to get past their hang ups and make the right decision for their company in their marketing investments.

In terms of printed marketing materials, one of the ways I’ve done this is by setting all of my printing prices based on full-color printing for everything from business cards to 8.5 x 11″ flyers. Most printers and designers will have one set of prices for black and white printing (technically just black since the paper is white) and then they charge more for each additional color, with full color (CMYK) being the most expensive. They do this because it reflects their cost of production, which is very convenient for the printer–though not as much so for the client.

Study after study, decade after decade, has shown that the use of color improves attention, reaction, retention, and emotional response. A few quick facts:

  • The use of color in a document increases “the audience‚Äôs willingness to read it by as much as 80% and their motivation to finish it by 78%.” (source)
  • “Color enhances learning and improves retention by up to 75 percent.” (source)
  • Colors can significantly impact our moods and emotions, which in turn drive buying decisions. (source)

A full-color printed marketing piece is far more likely to be noticed, read, understood, and emotionally influential. In other words, it’s more likely to do the things you want it to do when a potential client or customer sees it. Offering cut rate prices on black and white printing gives the appearance of savings to the client when compared to full color, but in reality it almost always costs them more because of missed sales and opportunities.

So, I’ve done my clients a favor. I have one set of prices. I have taken away the financial incentive to print ineffective marketing materials. And they almost always thank me for it.



We have a lot of positive feedback on our website and have even received jobs just because clients liked the "look" of it. Thanks again for your help with the website! I think refreshing that was one of the best things we have done for our business in a long time!

Megan Dryer
CS Kitchen and Bath