Is it always best to buy your print direct from a printer?

6th April, 2008

The answer of course is NO! But then again you would expect me to say that or would you?

Those of you that have met me will know that until I joined Nexus I ran a successful litho printing company in West Sussex with many direct customers and independent print managers. As a printer I had to employ sales reps to go out and get the business to keep the presses running but the type of business that the reps brought in had to be right for the printing equipment we had in-house. As a consequence if it was a very large run, digital or large format printing then I had to either turn a client away or try and print the job in an inefficient way.

If you approach an independent print manager (like Nexus) with your print requirements then they are not limited by a single printer's plant list. Instead the print manager can take your job to the printer with the best equipment for the job and add value to your print project through effective planning and management. You can rely on an independent print managers's knowledge of manufacturing materials and processes, workflow issues, and judgement on timing. If you have a custom project with lots of problems to solve, then you will appreciate the value of a committed and capable print manager that can handle your project from concept, through the production process and to delivery.

But it's not just the big projects that independent print managers are good for, they are also great at ensuring brand consistency. You must have had this scenario (or something similar) before: your usual printer does a great job of your stationery but can't do all of the things you need for an event like a sales brochure, personalised invites, printed pens, signs and large format graphics. So you Google a few companies and end up with 4 or 5 different suppliers and each has their own interpretation of your brand.

On the big day you open the boxes and then you spot the problems; your logo has different shades of your brand colours and the overall effect is lost. In this scenario you have the ultimate responsibility yet these issues could be avoided if you had the benefit of specialist knowledge in all areas of print production. This is where an independent print manager can add real value.

As independent print managers, we get to understand your brand guidelines and apply them to individual projects as and when they come up regardless of the type of print required.

If you are an experienced marketing manager or print buyer then you will know how much work it takes to identify your production problems, define specifications, and solve production issues. Someone must do this work to deliver your projects. If you possess the expertise, time, and resources needed to define specifications, select the right printers, and manage your projects day-to-day, then you are a rarity.

On the other hand, if you are short of the resources and time needed to devote to the buying process, then enlisting the services of an independent print manager would be the best way to save money, prevent waste, and ensure the timely delivery of your projects.

Using an independent instead of going direct to a printer doesn't mean that you pay more for your print, in fact it can sometimes be a dramatic saving because they often use trade-only printers. When the printer sells direct to an independent, they have a lower cost of sale because they don't pay the print manager (no commission, salary, reimbursement, or benefits) like they would have to if they had an in-house rep. The independent also achieves keener prices because they buy considerably more print than clients who buy direct. In turn, the print manager can resell the job at the price equal to or lower than you would pay if you purchased from a printer directly but with all the added benefits a broker can bring.

So whether your next print requirement is a business card or an exhibition graphic think carefully before you call your usual printer. Why not try Nexus instead?

Mike Sturt

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