The Century Of The Print Broker?

With the advent of digital files, automation, and corporate down-sizing, one of the most interesting phenomena of the past few years is the rise of the print broker, or sometimes known as a print management provider.  Firms such as InnerWorkings and One Source are relatively new, while more established firms such as Standard Register and Safeguard Business Systems offer a mix of production and “brokered” sales.

We have always had “independent” representatives in our industry. I’ve found comments about brokers in PIA newsletters going back over 100 years, and they were considered persona non grata by many then and now.  Yet, we need to accept that this business model is not going away.  Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes.

This is an individual who is responsible for a broad variety of purchases – not just print.  They have a very full plate and don’t have the time to become an expert in the world of print; thus, why not go with a print procurement group (another name for a brokerage firm)?  These organizations work extremely hard to provide unique services and support that many “traditional” firms are not equipped to offer.  It’s one-stop shopping – and in our hectic world of the 21st century it’s the way most of us like to do business.

Here are some quotes from several firms who provide print management services (from their websites):

“Printing Services are an essential component of most business’s day to day operations, especially when it comes to marketing and business growth. Print Brokers are a proven approach to sourcing the correct quantity and quality of printing services which have become more accessible, complex and powerful with the development of modern technology and communications.”

“While we at Sophizo know that printing-related cost savings and global sustainability can go hand in hand, many Fortune 500 companies may not. With over 30 years of printing and marketing experience, we recognize the importance of a corporate brand’s printed marketing materials as well as the need to minimize their cost. Sophizio’s print procurement strategies embrace global corporate sustainability initiatives that protect people, planet and profit.

We are not a print-buying company; we are print procurement strategy consultants who enthusiastically choose to use our craft in making a difference for our corporate clients and our world.”

Thus the closing question – what is your company doing to 1.) embrace this model or 2.) combat it?


2 thoughts on “The Century Of The Print Broker?

  1. Nice article Joe.

    You closed it with a simple question; “Thus the closing question – what is your company doing to 1.) embrace this model or 2.) combat it?”

    As a “print distributor” (sorry, we don’t allow the use of “broker” here at Service Info) I would love to know of the results of your question.

    Joe, as you know we will be hitting our 30th anniversary this September. Starting out as a forms distributor I quickly began selling all types of printing and after several years installed a lineup of small presses. Today we enjoy a nice mix of manufactured sales in addition to our distributor sales.

    I’ve had a ton of memories rush to my head after reading your comments. One I’ll share with you is about 15 years old. I was in a customer’s office giving my response to his delivery request for a Christmas mailing that required a strong commitment for on-time delivery. Having told the customer that I could in fact meet the delivery he picked up his phone and made a call; in about a one minute conversation he said “You can cancel that order” and hung up. After I got the order going he called to say that it would be nice if I could keep the cost “close to $75,000.00”. I did. I’m sure RRD never missed the order.

    Darrell Royal is quoted with saying something like “We don’t get to choose the song, we only get to decide if we will dance to it or not.”

  2. I love this blog post. It is right on the mark. Any organization who can bring “solutions” to the table in an ethical/honest way is a person or company that “buyers” want to talk to. We live in a rapidly moving and changing world. Thus, a person who can save time, provide headache relief and offer such solutions is quite valuable. Nice post! So, I say embrace it!

    Ryan Sauers
    Sauers Consulting Strategies

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