Archive for the ‘Digital Printing’ Category

Top 5 Reasons Print Brokers P.O. Printers

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Printers who let their hostility get the best of them are fools,

because printers who are likely to survive this recession and move successfully forward must find ways to reinvent their relationships with Print Brokers. Brokers hold the key to doubling or tripling your business without creating additional expense. The problem is that most printers don’t know what to do with print brokers. They aren’t part of the sales team and they aren’t customers either. What are they? Any attempt to pigeon hole them into either role will end in failure and frustration.

The first thing to do is embrace brokers and stop kicking them in the teeth.  I know this may not make sense to you. Some of you are going to accuse me of overreacting, after all your company doesn’t mistreat brokers — right? Some will say I’m whining, and some won’t consider the issue of print brokers at all. There are a lot of misguided printers who staunchly refuse to work with brokers. That might have been okay in the past, but it won’t serve you well in the future. You can’t afford to turn your back on sources of instant new business.

Haven’t you noticed how tough times are? Printing, particularly offset printing, has been besieged on all sides. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how the pigheaded, self-serving banking industry has hurt all of us. Have you tried to get a loan lately? Nor do I have to explain about the impact of digital printing, foreign competition, and the Internet. You already know about these things. You are experiencing unprecedented cash flow problems and shrinking markets. Even your best customers have cut back with no real promise that they will ever be at former levels again.

I hear moaning from the Industry that good sales representatives are hard to find and that your sales people keep pressing for ever lower prices to make them competitive. You get upset and believe that they aren’t really trying. A really good sales rep can sell even under the most adverse circumstances — right? If you truly believe that why don’t you put on your salesman’s hat and find out for yourself? Maybe you did. Maybe you took a day, or a week, and went into the field. Maybe you proved to yourself that it isn’t so bad, but let me tell you, selling in this economy is like fighting an uphill battle day-after-day-after-day. It can wear down even the heartiest rep. Your sales team, is running on fumes, and another sales meeting, another motivational talk, and another seminar isn’t going to dramatically change anything.

What can you do? I would like you to take a moment, if you will, and consider re-vitalizing your sales efforts with the help of Print Brokers. Why Print Brokers, because they are FREE! Printers don’t have to house them, pay salaries, benefits, or reimbursements. That should be incentive enough. FREE, FREE, FREE — what’s better than that?

The problem is that most printers I’ve talked to either barely tolerate brokers, or despise them. Why? I think there are five main reasons for this:

  1. Print Brokers own their own customer list. The printer doesn’t. Suppose a house sales rep brings in an account, since they were working on the company dime the customer technically belongs to the company. This isn’t true with brokers. In fact if you go after the broker’s customer it can lead to a nasty fight.
  2. Print Brokers are legally a middle man. Printers fume if the broker can’t pay them because the customer didn’t pay the bill. On the other hand, how can you hold the broker responsible when they don’t receive the product? You don’t punish your in-house sales team like this. You must find a compromise. How difficult can it be to secure your interests in transactions without leaning on the party who is least likely to have the means to pay you? Think about it.
  3. Print Brokers can take the print jobs to someone else if they want. Usually they move things around to save money, time, or be more convenient, but they don’t even have to have a reason, they can just do it.
  4. Print Brokers are employed by their customers — not the printer. In the event of a disagreement the printer has little leverage over the broker. The broker knows which side his bread is buttered on  and is most likely to defend the customer’s point of view over the printer’s.
  5. Print Brokers are not constrained by territories. Printers often feel threatened by brokers because they see their own customers as potentially vulnerable to the broker. Sales reps especially are very protective and guard, as they should, from any possible threat.

In my next post I will give printers some ideas that will allow them to work around the conflicts and make better broker relationships which will benefit both printer and print broker.


Here’s a POD, There’s a POD, Everywhere a POD POD

Friday, August 28th, 2009

First what is POD? This is really confusing. There are iPod’s for music, pod casts for recording, pea pods, pod people from the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Printing on Demand (pod).

Since I’m a print broker and this blog concerns itself with printing, publishing, and [other] observations you could guess that the pod I’m concerned about is Printing on Demand. By the way, that’s a darned good phrase. Whoever came up with it should write political slogans, you know, the kind of things that sound good but have no real substance. After all, if you wanted something printed why not have it done on demand?



“My good sir, I demand my printing.” Wha? What does it mean? The phrase by itself is meaningless, but it has impact. It lets the customer feel that they are in charge by being able to demand it. How often if life do we get to demand anything? Demands usually cause trouble, but here’s the printer giving you permission to DEMAND something. That’s refreshing, don’t you think?

First, printing on demand is a misnomer. It is not a printing method at all. The method is called digital. Think of POD like the term quick print. Quick printing is offset printing utilizing faster turnarounds, smaller runs, and cheaper methods, like using paper plates instead of metal. There is no printing process called Quick Print. And there isn’t a printing press called an “on demand.”

Digital printing burst onto the printing scene just a few years ago. The computer industry spawned it, and in fact, the printing you do on your office laser jet is digital printing. The difference between the commercial digital “press” and your office printer boils down primarily to speed and sophistication.

So what’s the big deal? Oh my friend, it is a very big deal because Printing on Demand is revolutionizing the field of publishing. Until it came around, it wasn’t economically feasible to print just a few books. To prepare an offset press for printing requires several steps that we call “make-ready” in the biz. The time and materials, such as plates,  and file prep, have front-end costs. With POD, many of those front-end costs don’t exist. if your electronic file is right, the setup is virtually done. Now is the beginning of the golden age of short-run publishing.

If the price is better why isn’t all printing POD? Because, it isn’t always better. For all the hoopla, POD has a serious weakness. It is great at micro print runs, like quantities between one and five-hundred, but can’t keep up with offset printing at around one-thousand. If you wish to print say 2,000 books, offset printing will offer a much better price, but if you only want 50, POD beats offset, hands down.

What’s the future of Printing on Demand? Who knows? I suspect that someone, somewhere soon will figure out a way to make digital printing more economical for longer runs and offset presses will quickly disappear like dinosaurs. That day isn’t here yet. For the time being I recommend digital printing for short runs and offset printing for larger.  Here’s a pretty simple guide: 500 or less = digital, 1,000 or more = offset, between 500 and 1,000, get a bid.

P.S. If you have self-published a book and want to learn how to totally master the power of Internet marketing check out The Author Platform.

Printing: Innovate or Die

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Regular readers may have noticed that it has been a few days since I made a post. Please accept my apologies. I do have an excuse. My solution to battling  printing economic woes is to develop additional income streams. I reason that if my livelihood isn’t dependent on just one source, should one be down, the other streams can still keep my boat afloat. The problem is that I’ve spent thirty-five years developing the print broker income stream and barely three months working on the others, and since my other income ideas still revolve around printing, there is no guarantee that there will be any better payoff–is there?

There are thousands of financial gurus out there who promise to teach one, for a fee, how to make big bucks during an economic downturn. They have the secret and it’s always easy, fast, and guaranteed. Blah, blah, blah. The way you learn how to get rich is to buy what they are selling. You give them money, and they get rich. You can’t fault them. They deliver what was promised. With your money they do demonstrate the number one wealth building principle–get someone else to give you their money.

Heck, even in my own advertisement next to this blog I promise to reveal a secret that will teach printing buyers how to save money. It isn’t really a secret at all, but it does work. All of the marketing experts I’ve read say that you have to have some sort of hook to draw people in. Can I really teach methods to cut printing expenses? Yes, I believe that I can. So please forgive me if I use a little teaser to call attention to my message. All I’m attempting to do is utilize my long career in printing to help other people. If I can teach them a few techniques to help make smarter purchasing decisions, then I’ve provided a needed service. How do I know that it is needed? I meet people all of the time who have the responsibility of handling printing for their companies and they don’t even know the difference between digital and offset printing. If you don’t even know the basics you are in over your head. How many art and marketing students graduate with an understanding of printing? Not many, I can tell you. If the schools don’t teach it, how are they to learn?

So am I trying to present myself as a printing guru that will swoop in and give you a magic elixir that will fix all of your printing woes? Oh G_d, I hope not. I’m not flashy (just ask anyone who knows me), I don’t swoop, and I don’t promise anything I can’t deliver.

I hope you readers aren’t too bored by this point. I’m going somewhere with this train of thought and it isn’t just self-promotion, although it may sound like it. President Bill Clinton was quoted as saying, “Ah feel your pain.” In his position he wasn’t sharing the pain. He was above it. I have to confess that I am sharing your pain. My business is off too. My wife and I are in a position we haven’t been in for thirty years. We are struggling to make ends meet. We share your pain.

What are we doing about it? We are trying to implement some, and I hate to trivialize it with a cliche`, out-of-the-box thinking. We are attempting to establish multiple income streams and redefining our service. Would we have done this if we weren’t faced with the current difficulties? Nope. Adversity is the mother of invention, not to take anything away from Plato who said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” And when the dust settles, what will the printing industry look like? Truly, I don’t know. I can make some guesses which may or may not be right, but I am optimistic about the future. Upheavals present challenges, challenges lead to new thinking, and new thinking leads to improvement. The printers who survive will be leaner, more efficient, and I hope, more prosperous. It’s not that that we have a choice. Innovate or die. That’s the only choice.

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