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Truths from the Trenches –Dana

December 2011

Imagine for a minute that you're in a room filled with print customers. It's a good-sized group of about 75 professionals from a range of industries like financial services, retail, gaming/entertainment, non-profits, colleges and universities, health care and manufacturing. They're a print-savvy audience, with the majority having more than 10 years of experience working with printers. There are creatives (graphic designers) in the group and some marcom professionals, as well.

What if you could ask them what they expect from commercial printers today? What qualities are they looking for? What would make them choose Printer A over Printer B?

I was lucky enough to be in this situation at our Print & Media Conference in September. On each day I moderated a Brainstorming Session, designed to engage the audience by encouraging them to discuss anything related to their roles. Getting this large of an audience to speak publicly about their printing preferences, career challenges and print buying behaviors can be challenging—but it's also a most enlightening opportunity when it works.

As our day two Brainstorming Session began, and after the attendees had been together as a group for nearly two days, I needed to find a way to get them talking. If you've ever moderated such a group, you'll know you either get dead silence when posing questions, or one person who does all the talking. I wanted to avoid both scenarios, so I decided to hand out blank note cards and ask everyone to complete the following sentence:

"All things being equal, I would prefer to work with print providers who…"

There were some print providers in the audience that day. Our sponsors were there, and a few of the attendees were printers and print brokers. We collected the cards, but before I read the answers out loud for further discussion, I asked the print providers to guess what the cards might say.

"Keep out of our business," said one printer. "Bring knowledge and value," said another. "They want someone they can trust," offered a third.

Here's what the note cards actually said, in no particular order:

"All things being equal, I would prefer to work with print providers who…"

Are ready and willing to meet my project needs—I don't like "yes" responses without actually delivering targeted results (deadlines, meeting my specs, price).

 

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