Perils of Bypassing the Print Buyer
If there's one thing that printers and print buyers disagree on, it's this: Whether or not printers should bypass the buyer when trying to get into a company.
As a former print buyer for a major financial services company, I can tell you it never worked for printers who leap-frogged over me to get to my boss Roger. I always found out. Roger literally power-walked down the hall and swept into my office with the news that so-and-so from printer X just contacted him — and what did I think of that firm?
Luckily for me, Roger entrusted me to decide whether or not to consider using printer X. And I was so ticked off at the end-run tactic that I vowed not to work with them. Childish and shortsighted? Probably. But finding printers was my job.
Fast forward to today. Technology has changed. Tastes in media have changed. And printers' offerings have changed. Yesterday's "nothin' but print" printers are today's marketing services providers. Enlightened printers (or maybe just those who've managed to survive) recognize that today, print plays a supporting role for many companies' marketing campaigns. They are moving away from selling "just" print and toward offering multichannel marketing services.
What this means is that they need to pitch their offerings to marketing decision makers, not to someone who may just be sourcing print for print's sake.
It's understandable that these evolved printing firms want to meet with marketing. Problems arise when they approach marketing directly, but they're still seen as printers. Marketing execs may bounce them over to the print buying team, which may react as I did years ago — ticked off. Hopes for that printer are dashed.
If this printing firm approaches the print buyer directly, a few things could happen: 1) the buyer agrees that there's a good match and introduces the printer to her marketing department; 2) the print buyer doesn't need another service provider, and this printer doesn’t get through to marketing; or 3) the print buyer believes there is value in the printer's services and looks seriously at the printer's offerings for future opportunities.
My advice to printing firms in this situation is to proceed with caution. The more you know about how a particular company operates when it comes to print sourcing, the better.