Print Brokers: The Question of Value – PART 1

PBDoes a print broker bring value to print buyers? This is a question many companies that buy a substantial amount of print have asked themselves – and continue to ask themselves – as they now face the new economy with its set of new challenges in addition to the traditional hurdles they’ve had to overcome. The answer? Some say YES, brokers add value; others say NO, they do not add value. So which answer is correct? To answer the question of value, I am going to simply break it down from a few different perspectives over several articles. I hope you’ll stay with me, and I welcome your input.

A Quick Look at the Value of Brokers of Any Kind

Before we get down to some of the perspectives, let’s talk in general about brokers. We all use brokers in some way, shape, or form and call those relationships “value.” Think about when you’ve purchased a mortgage, health insurance, car insurance, stocks, etc. We use brokers in those scenarios, and we realize they are the experts in their fields. Plus, we recognize they have relationships with multiple companies. Brokers take our custom situation and find the right fit to match and meet our goals. We trust they are dealing with reputable companies and have our best interests in mind. We trust they will find us our best “bang for the buck,” right? All of these same factors should come in to play as you consider a print broker, too.  The goals and value propositions are the same; or at least they should be!

 Are Print Brokers Any Different?

So why do some companies hesitate to consider using a print broker? I believe a fair share have had bad experiences with print brokers in the past and now say, “No, I won’t make that mistake again.” While I understand that argument, I must protest! As with any other type of business you have dealt with in the past, you’ll find print brokerage companies that are run poorly and that offer substandard service, BUT there are also print brokers who do an outstanding job meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations. Of course, if you had a bad experience with a print broker, I highly recommend you don’t use that print broker again.  But I highly recommend you get back on the horse and ride again with a reputable print broker. Do your due diligence and take advantage of what a dependable print management company can do for you and your business

 The Not-So-Evident, But Immensely Valuable Value of a Reputable Print Broker

Why else do companies think a print broker can’t offer value to them? I’ve been told directly that advertising agencies don’t benefit from using print brokers because they do the same thing. They have a print buyer who shops the printing and finds the right partner. That’s what a broker does too, right? Well, if the answer is yes, then that is redundancy and inefficiency. And that would mean one party isn’t needed. Inefficiency. Now that’s an ugly word in today’s new economy.  So, do I agree? Actually, no. Not at all. How can I say that? While it would appear a print broker wouldn’t be needed, I encourage you to look beneath the surface of the situation. In an arrangement where an advertising agency procures its printing from its core group of printing companies, there will often be numerous holes in that network that a print broker can fill via their expertise and connections. A reliable print broker has the goal of fully working for the customer. It identifies and places a particular project where it is most efficiently produced. A brick and mortar printing company, on the other hand, has a goal of filling their plant whether or not a particular project fits it well. That’s why every budget and deadline conscious advertising agency should have a print broker that’s well managed and has a strong network of printers as a resource. I’ve seen the power of relationships between print brokers and advertising agencies first hand, so I speak from experience.  During my first 15 years in print brokering, one of our largest clients was a sizeable advertising agency.  We were their largest print provider, and they reaped the benefits from our value proposition year after year. I’ll be sharing more about the value of using a print broker in future posts, but feel free to comment and ask your questions here as well.

Kerry Lodish About Kerry Lodish
Kerry is a partner at Integra Graphics Synergy, Lititz, Pennsylvania. He has been a print broker for over 20 years and has been successful at leveraging the value proposition of print brokering with his years of experience to bring Integra’s clients maximized print efficiencies in quality, savings and meeting overall marketing goals.

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