With Friends Like These, Who Needs Foes?

In a recent blog post (“Print Management Is Friend, not Foe”), the CEO of a large print-management firm put forth an argument for being the successful printer’s new, best friend. It offered one man’s version of the future of print production.

From the perspective of a “highly efficient print manufacturer,” here is another: Run away from the light – quickly!

While print management companies have become increasingly active in the marketplace, their total ownership of the market is far from determined. Some business will gravitate there, some will not.

From my perspective, the print management business model needs you more than you need it. This service and delivery model cannot be achieved unless you are willing to continue to invest in your business to be cost competitive and innovative.

If print management firms really could determine what “the optimal manufacturing platform,” “better load balancing” and “job alignment” looked likem they’d be running a manufacturing business instead of sucking the life out of yours.

Fear is a successful motivator so, yes, it is OK to fear this model. Make no mistake. This is a competitor talking, not a business partner. They are after your margins; they need yours to make theirs.

Anyone would agree that our industry will continue to evolve rapidly—same as ever. You can also be sure smart customers are always in search of a better way. As a successful business, you can:

  • focus on serving the customer,
  • commit to building and investing in the best service/delivery team,
  • use technology to create a true market advantage and price supremacy,
  • excel at specialization, and
  • forget about your competitors, the list is getting shorter anyway.

Do this for yourself. Be disciplined and be bold. Success is not for the meek.

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Comments
  • Charlie Corr

    I totally agree. Print management firms have laid ruin to the UK market. They lead to the continued commoditization of print. Resist, don’t contribute to your own demise.

  • just an opinion

    I think people who need a "Print Management Firm" are those who can’t manage their own business, no? If you are failing and flailing – why not find out WHY you fail before completely blowing up your business… Or better yet, go ahead and fail and give the rest of us who are succeeding a better chance in the future.

  • Anonymous

    Amen, call them what they really are, brokers which bring no value.

  • marcom specialist

    Fear and laziness is what has given these firms their foothold. The comment: "they’d be running a manufacturing business instead of sucking the life out of yours." is dead on. Printers who succomb to their cost pressure based on fear of losing business and/or payroll coupled with the laziness and lack of applying one’s self to improvement and understanding customer needs opens the door to the smooth talking empty suits that say "yes" and then commoditize the industry with their Walmart behavior.

  • Jamie Bradley

    When I left the high quality sheetfed printer I worked for in 1999 to become a print broker, it was because I didn’t think they were recognizing the changes that the web and digital printing would have on their business. I continued to work with them for several more years bringing the same jobs for the same clients, until the clients changed what they needed and the work no longer fit their equipment. My clients were loyal to me, and not to the company that actually produced the work, because they recognized that I was the one working one their behalf.

    Fast forward to today, and many of my clients would be just as happy to order printing online if I didn’t already make their job easier for them, since many know very little about printing. They trust me to make the production decisions for them. I also manage a wider variety of the marketing materials they produce, so I offer them better continuity between projects.

    If you have a strong sales team that brings in all the business you can handle, then you don’t need brokers. If you have more production time to fill, select a strong inside person to work with the brokers you like and raise your prices on the ones you don’t.