As Matt points out, that requires understanding what that printed piece will be used for, what business objectives are behind the need to produce it, why they want it in the first place and, dare I say it, questioning whether they really need 25,000 or 50,000 copies, or whether it needs to be printed at all to best achieve those objectives.
Now, this does require a dramatic change in sales culture for most companies! What? Walk away from a 50,000 run of brochures or suggest not printing them at all? While it may seem that this doesn't make any sense at all, if you are taking a long-term partnership approach toward delivering the best possible customer experience, it can make all the sense in the world if it is the right choice for the customer.
It increases your credibility. It begins to position you as a business partner, not a commodity vendor. And, over the longer haul, it will help you move further up the marketing supply chain where decisions are being made about how and when content—not just print—should be produced and communicated.
Avoid Commodity Game
Otherwise, we just continue with "business as usual," competing for individual jobs at commodity prices. That is not a viable long-term strategy, and it has not been for quite some time. Well, unless you are a Vistaprint, which has built an infrastructure so highly automated that it brutally carves every bit of fat out of the process, down to the bone, to deliver commodity items like business cards and postcards at bargain prices, yet still benefits from great margins. And, let's face it—Vistaprint does print; but at its heart, it is a marketing company.
There are many lessons to be learned from online-only printing companies like Vistaprint or Mimeo.com, but the key lesson is to have a compelling online presence and to sell your customers on using it to their benefit.