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Founder, Print Buyers International (PBI)

Margie's Buyer Insights

By Margie Dana

About Margie

Margie Dana, a former print buyer, is the founder of Print Buyers International (PBI) and its member-based organization, Boston Print Buyers. These professional organizations cater to print customers worldwide through education, an annual buyers conference, Print Buyer Boot Camps, and networking opportunities.

Margie's perhaps best known for her weekly enewsletter, Margie's Print Tips, which she's published weekly since 1999 in an effort to build bridges in the industry. For years, Margie has been a popular speaker at industry events here and abroad. Her clients include print company executives who rely on her to help steer their marketing campaigns and make their online efforts more customer friendly.


Make Eye Contact with Print Buyers

An odd thing happened in today’s Zumba class. We had a substitute teacher; someone I’d never seen before. Her dancing was just OK—no great shakes (go ahead...laugh)—but there was one thing about her style that really put me off.

She never made eye contact. Never ever.

Facing the mirror and standing at the front of the room, she dutifully led us through 15 songs. She kept her gaze focused on something up and off to the distance. There was no connection between teacher and students. What...So...Ever.

It reminded me of the judges’ comments on “The X Factor,” when they criticize singers for failing to make a connection with the audience during their performances. Their voices were great, but the performances were empty.

There’s a lesson here for print service providers. Do you make eye contact with your customers? It’s important to let customers know you are paying attention to them, that you know who they are, and that you’re focused on them.

If you fail to focus on them, they’ll sense it and look for another printer who does. Your products may be satisfactory, but there’s no reason for them to stay with you. You’ve made it easy for them to stray.

Make a personal connection with customers. It’s easy. Here are my seven ideas:
  1. Know customers’ names, and use them when speaking to them.
  2. Make your web content, sales letters and promotional materials about “You” and not “We” or “I.”
  3. Call top customers from time to time to ask, “How are we doing? What could we do better?”
  4. Send handwritten cards for a holiday or after a major project.
  5. All customers are not the same. Send classy, targeted promotional materials—i.e., use VDP.
  6. Be familiar with your customers’ companies and industries so you can serve them better—and converse with them about it.
  7. Consider sending every customer a short, five-question “How are we doing?” survey at the beginning of the year. Invite their honest evaluation of your services. (But make sure you’re prepared to act on the results before conducting any customer survey.)

Print buyers know whether or not you’re paying attention to them. If you treat your customers as an anonymous group, they’ll sense it and feel disconnected. It amounts to ignoring them. If and when they leave you for someone else, they’ll feel no guilt, for in their eyes, they meant nothing to you.

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