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Targeting Buyer Personas —Dana

April 2010

FOR ALL of you new print sales reps, listen up. Although sales managers and sales coaches may suggest that print buyers exhibit a predictable set of buying behaviors and practices, I'd like to remind you: No two print buying professionals are alike.

Consider the entire field of print buying professionals (all 20,000+, per a 2008 RIT survey). A few distinct categories of buyers come into focus. By understanding how print buyers differ, you'll have a better chance at connecting with them and developing long-lasting relationships.

There are exceptions, but I would say to you that the following two groups represent the major print buyer personas: experienced buyers and novices.

Experienced corporate print buyers have chosen print buying as a career. They have moved up through the ranks year after year, building skills by working directly with printers. I consider the "elite" buyers to have at least 10 years' experience. They are, for the most part, every bit as passionate about printing as printers are. They love the teamwork, enjoy the lifelong learning that print buying requires, and are the most likely group to attend industry and print buyer events. They identify with the printing industry as much as if not more than their own industry.

Print buyers work in different areas of their companies. Here are the most common: corporate communications, marketing, purchasing, media, creative, or publications. Titles may or may not include the term "print" and/or "production."

Depending on the buyer and his or her position in the company, he or she may have full and final authority on how to source printing and with whom. This is important to remember, especially if you think that print buyers have no say and no power in their firms. This is a dangerous assumption. Many elite buyers with extensive expertise are respected by their management teams. Their opinions and insights are solicited. They are not viewed as merely gatekeepers.

Experienced buyers don't need basic print education. They do their own research to keep up with printing trends and new technologies. Though they need little hand-holding, they are interested in innovative concepts from the printing industry. Some of the most seasoned corporate print buyers think they know printing as well as, if not better than, their sales reps. Sometimes they're right.

Your sales approach for this particular class of print buyers needs to be tailored to their level of print sophistication. They can decide with one quick visit to your Website whether you're a good fit or not, or if you have something uniquely valuable for their firms. More than any other group, they'll linger over your equipment list, because they understand it.



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