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Seven Key Ways Buyers Differ –Dana

June 2012
Perspective is a beautiful thing. According to one dictionary definition, it is “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.” When it comes to “having perspective” about what makes professional print buyers different, I’ll bet we all have our own.

My guess is that many commercial printers would say that buyers differ in experience, sophistication, knowledge of both print manufacturing and the paper industry, motivation, buying skills and how much print “spend” they have.

If I asked working print buyers for their perspectives on this same topic, I have a hunch many of the answers would be the same. For good measure, I’d add these differences: understanding of the printing industry, appreciation of how printing firms differ, familiarity with key printing presses and technologies, and negotiating skills specific to the field.

As valid as perspective is, it’s most powerful when coupled with experience. For various reasons, I’m like a dog on a bone when it comes to reflecting on what makes print buyers tick, what qualities describe elite print buyers and what the key differences are among buyers in the workforce today. Maybe I got dropped on my head as a young child, resulting in this peculiar commitment I have to this subject.

My career up to this point has placed me right in the middle of the print buyer/print manufacturer community. Paying attention to what makes print buyers “tick” comes naturally, and it has highlighted a few very significant differences among the buying pros in the workforce today.

I thought that by identifying these key differences, I could help new print sales reps and managers.

1) Experience is the #1 differentiator—but you knew that. Because there is no accredited educational institution that trains people to become print buyers, buyers tend to happen upon a job that requires print buying responsibility. For some of us, it becomes our career. I find that buyers with 10 or more years in the business are savvy and smart, excellent negotiators and tough on printers.

Like anyone in a career this long, they have formed a sort of informal network of peers and other resources—including printers, BTW. The more experienced they are, the more likely they’ll look for professional development opportunities.

2) How much or how little a buyer uses social media for business is also a key differentiator. It’s easy to assume that they’re all jumping on this popular bandwagon of Tweets and LinkedIn Groups, as well as other social media sites, but I’m not seeing this at all.


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