Years ago, I wrote print company profiles for New England Printer & Publisher. The editor gave me my assignment—i.e., which company to be profiled—and then it was up to me to do the research for a 2,500-word profile, plus take photos. (That was funny. Believe me, I am no Margaret Bourke-White
Friends who were writers thought I was nuts to go to the trouble of actually visiting each plant, where I’d spend anywhere from three to five hours before writing the profile. “Why waste that time?” they ask. “Just call them up, do a phone interview, get them to send some photos, and be done with it.”
These friends may have been fellow marketing writers, but they sure as shootin’ weren’t print fanatics.
Imagine passing up the opportunity to visit a printing plant, spend time with management, meet lots of key people, including those who ran presses, headed up prepress and maybe worked in customer service.
I loved every minute of it.
Recently I wrote a Print Tip on the topic—“Top 10 Reasons to Do a Plant Tour”
—because I’ve always thought the more you can get prospects or customers into your facility, the better for everyone.
As a journalist, I prefer to do an on-site tour and chat with people face to face. That’s when the company’s personality comes to life. I can get the dry stuff from your website—what equipment you have, photos of jobs you’ve printed, the history of the company, and so on. But only when I spend time in the plant, can I get a true sense of what makes a place tick. The same goes for customers and prospects.
When I interview a CEO or Sales Manager, I can ask questions about an individual’s background and uncover what specific talents, skills—even hopes and dreams—he or she brings to the business. This is much more fascinating stuff than identifying the make and model of presses and finishing equipment.
I guess I’m trying to encourage you to get more people into your facility to find the goodness and the personality that lies beneath the crust. Every time I visit a plant, I get a fuller, richer picture of what that place is all about. It’s impossible to get that over the phone or from e-mails.
I’ll keep advising print customers to make the effort and visit you where you work. Such a tour is always educational—but just as magical!