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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.


Putting a Face on a Printing Firm

Yesterday I had the good fortune of meeting Dave Gilson of Gilson Graphics (Grand Rapids, MI) at an event hosted by Fujifilm. While he was there to discuss his excitement about Fujifilm’s new J Press 720 inkjet press, Dave made an impression on me for different reasons.

He talked about the growth of his company, which was founded (I think) by his father. We learned that he—they—embraced and invested in new technologies in the printing and graphics industry, whether it was modem-dedicated PCs or Xyvision systems or computer-to-plate technology. And they continue to do so.

Gilson Graphics is set to be the first U.S. company to have the new J Press 720 installed (before year’s end). I’ll write more about the J Press later.

As I listened to Dave talk about the changes in his company over the years, it occurred to me what a great PR campaign he would make, doing just that—talking. Prospects would appreciate learning from him, a CEO, about how he got to where he is and what his corporate strategy is. It was plain speaking at its purest and very best. He was more interested in telling us how his father set a wonderful example than anything else.

Customers and prospects like hearing from company CEOs. Since most U.S. printing companies are privately owned, I have to believe a lot of you reading this are actively involved in managing your printing businesses on a daily basis.
  • How often do customers see your face?
  • How often do you reach out to them, and not just as a headshot or e-mail address on your website?
  • Do you have meetings with customers?
  • Do you have a small video or two on your site, starring you?

I’ll tell you another thing. If there are wrinkles you need to smooth over with a customer—such as problems with a job or a missed schedule—getting a phone call from the CEO with an apology and an explanation is an instant balm on the customer “inflammation.”

Dave Gilson’s comments weren’t rehearsed or scripted. He was responding to questions from the trade press. And we were treated to a look back at a printing company that seemed to have trail blazing in its genes, as told by a CEO who makes a point of learning all he can about new technologies and media trends that impact his and his customers’ businesses.

Gilson mentioned attending not one, but tw,o RIT seminars taught by Frank Romano years ago, which informed him about computerized estimating and computerized typesetting. Everything he shared with us helped flesh out his company’s philosophy for growth.

Bottom line? This print CEO’s story made a great impression. He wasn’t selling or boasting. He was just telling his story. I believe his customers—present and future—would have been similarly affected.

If you’re a print CEO, especially of a family-owned business, don’t hide your face. Think about being the public face of your company. It may give you an added PR boost and create a personal connection with your customers and potential customers.

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