Ideas to Differentiate Your Print Distribution Business


Have you ever been stumped trying to come up with ways to differentiate yourself or your print distribution business from others?

This is especially challenging in a crowded marketplace where many of the print markets are shrinking. Price seems to be the order of the day and the preoccupation with price can overshadow opportunities lurking just around the corner.

If you are looking for ideas to differentiate your print business, then here are few for you to consider:

Technical Expertise

One of the best ways to differentiate yourself is by hiring IT people to develop new services for your customers. This could be web site design, e-commerce, or mining the data of your customers to better help them market their products and services. All of these solutions take IT expertise and not every print distributor is willing to invest in that area, but if you are, you can take your technical expertise to a level that differentiates you from the competition.

Marketing Expertise

You may want to consider investing in a marketing person who has the ability to interact with the marketing people on the customer side. Marketing people have their own buzzwords and marketing speak and if you bring in the right person, they can have those strategic marketing conversations with your customer. Your marketing person can help support data mining and data analytics and can provide expertise and services that many companies cannot budget for within their own departments. With this marketing expertise you can take the customer and, in turn, your reputation to a new level, differentiating you from the competition.

Workflow Design

This is similar to technical expertise. Depending on the customer, you may want to lead with technical or marketing expertise. When leading with technical expertise you can talk about how you can change the workflow of your customer’s processes by leveraging software to execute the improvement. These can be custom applications for computers, iPad applications, or mobile phone applications. When you can redesign the workflow of your customer’s business application, you create value and differentiate yourself from the competition.


Consider offering transparency services and act as a BPO, or Business Process Outsourcing, company. Many print distributors are winning business because they are willing to show the invoice from their manufacturer and agree upon a specific gross margin ahead of time with the customer. In this way, the customer is certain that they are receiving a reasonably priced product or service from you.

New Partners

If you are a smaller print distributor, you can still offer these services and increase your expertise by connecting with service partners. These service partners would be brought into a situation when needed, and you can agree ahead of time on the margin share of that business. This can be scary, but it is no different from jobbing work to a print manufacturer. You own the customer relationship and the customer trusts you to bring in the expertise to create new solutions for them, whether they work directly for you or not. Again, this is a great way to differentiate your print distributorship.

There are many ways to differentiate your print distribution business from others.

The key is to make up your mind that you are not going to be like everyone else in order to win and keep customers. If you start with new partners then there is very little investment upfront.

What ways have you differentiated your business from competitors?


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