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How to Become a Printing Broker
Printing brokers are liaisons between clients and printers. They often shop around for the best prices, identify printers that can handle specific orders, and assist in facilitating print jobs. Some even offer graphic design services to help their clients. Annual earnings are often based on commission, paid to the broker by the printer. Experience in the printing industry can be useful, such as working as a printing sales rep, paper salesperson or copy equipment vendor, but anyone with an interest in printing can become a printing broker.
Establish a Network of Printers
Printing can be a fairly competitive business, so many printers are open to working with printing brokers to keep their presses running. Reach out to printers in your area and express your interest in brokering jobs for them. Contact them via email, direct mail or phone, and request a meeting. During your discussion, you want to identify their printing capabilities, printing capacity, turnaround time, and whether they do binding work as well. Also, you’ll need to broach the topic of commission. The Merritt-Gentry Group, a financial consultant, reports that commission agreements often range from 20 percent to 30 percent of the job.
Identify Your Target Market
With your vendors in place, start to identify your target market. Obviously, most businesses need some type of printed materials, but it is time-consuming and expensive to market to a wide audience, especially in the beginning. Instead, determine which businesses you want to target. For example, mid-sized companies don’t necessarily have in-house printing facilities, beyond the standard copy machines, and may require bulk printing. Another targeting option would be companies within a certain area.
Build a Website
You can easily work out of the home, but you’ll need to launch a website. Like the printers themselves, your site should include information about the types of print jobs you broker. Based on your printing network, you should have a good idea of what services to include. You should also have a contact page on the site to process requests for quotes and handle any repeat orders. If you have any graphic design connections, you can also offer this service to potential customers.
Develop Marketing Collateral
Develop an introductory letter -- or email -- announcing your new venture. Send this letter out to former colleagues and business prospects. Develop a sell sheet, which is a “leave-behind” that lists your services and discusses the benefits of working with you; and a direct mail postcard, which contains copy that also points out the benefits of working with you. A brochure may also be beneficial, as well as some samples from your printing vendors. Send out the collateral, and then follow up with your prospects.
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.