Interviews | May 18, 2022
Why This PERF Chairman Is Excited for the Future of Brand Chain
The 2022 Brand Chain Leadership Summit was an invigorating experience that connected our community for much-needed in-person networking and learning. It was also the very first event we experienced together as Brand Chain.
So what was the energy like that week? What does the future hold for this evolving community?
We spoke with Roger Buck, chairman of the Print Education & Research Foundation (PERF), which funds a number of Brand Chain educational programs. As a longtime Brand Chain member, he’s experienced plenty of change — and in his words, this event was the “nucleus” of something much bigger we can all grow together. Continue reading to get his insights.
Tell us about your experience. With this being the first time the community gathered in person as Brand Chain (and for some, the first time in a few years), what was the energy like?
The energy level reminded me of meetings we’ve had going back 15 years ago. In the late 90s and early 2000s, our industry was rocking and rolling. Business forms were still heavily used, label sales were growing and designing document solutions to improve a client’s operation was a focus for distributors and their manufacturer partners. Meetings at that time took a long while. You met with peers at 7 a.m. and continued networking until midnight.
I saw the same spirit at this year’s event. When you leave a conference tired, excited and hoarse, you know it was a good time. As outgoing chairman of the Print Education & Research Foundation (PERF), which provides funding for much of Brand Chain’s education, I was pleased with the content and felt our funding was well spent.
How was this different from past Leadership Summits?
The mix of attendees was different. As our community gets involved in more promotional and marketing services, our membership is evolving. Instead of just thinking about selling promotional products, we hear conversations on how those promotional products play in the overall marketing plan of the end client. Distributors, and their business partners, are working to control a client’s total print and marketing spend of the mutual client. Some of the educational sessions were directed at the vast array of products and services that can be combined to capture that spending.
What were some insights you gained from the educational sessions or opportunities to network?
It’s obvious our industry goes through an almost constant state of change. Business forms are still around but fairly flat. Commercial print is a good revenue channel if it’s part of a wider plan to generate more account penetration. Promotional products can no longer be just “trinkets,” but have to be thoughtfully purchased and delivered to generate an ROI for the end client. Distributors are looking for new solutions to combine with print to keep their client relationships “stickier.” QR codes are coming back into play and augmented reality (AR) is coming into the mainstream.
All of this means our community has to draw in more manufacturers and other solutions providers to help our reseller members become even more successful. It make for an exciting time and also one that requires a lot of ongoing education in the Brand Chain community.
This event was just the beginning for Brand Chain. What excites you about the future of this community?
I considered this event as the nucleus that we can grow into a powerful, solution-driven community. As the outgoing chairman of PERF, it’s been awesome to be a part of the education delivered by Brand Chain to our members.
It is just the beginning though. We drastically need to bring in more suppliers and innovative solutions providers to the community, in order to continue giving our distributor members the tools to grow their business.
At the same time, we need to help promotional product resellers coming into our membership understand the low hanging fruit they can grab by offering business forms, labels, plastic cards, integrated forms and other print based products that our legacy members continue to supply. This provides a great new channel of resellers.
It will be important that future education, still supported through PERF, includes our traditional products as well as the latest technologies. This is the best way to provide a winning solution for all members of the community, whether they are a manufacturer, supplier or distributor.
I look forward to a Brand Chain event with 400-500 attendees, where we all go home dead tired but inspired, motivated and excited. I’m also thrilled that we have several ways that Brand Chain members can now donate to PERF so we can grow our portfolio in order to provide more education in the future.
As our new communities continue to pull in members, it’s imperative that we keep on the front edge of education. Growing the PERF portfolio has to be a part of future goals.