Sense of Hope at the Print Buyers’ Conference
It seems to me that print service providers could take a page from the playbook used by senior-level print customers today. At our annual Print & Media Conference held recently in Chicago, I paid close attention to the attendee mood and the conversations, particularly in the two brainstorming sessions and the Q&A following the other sessions.
There was hope in the air.
While the economy has taken big bites out of all businesses and reduced print buying staffs along with marketing budgets, there was energy and enthusiasm among the 100 attendees. We talked about the future of professional print buyers and what their roles might look like in five and 10 years.
Yes, changes to their responsibilities are happening now and will certainly continue in the next few years—to including other media as well as other business functions. But attendees expressed their continued loyalty to and passion for print over and over again.
They want to (and need to) keep learning about the newest printing technologies and applications. They are interested in changes in media preferences and communication trends that might affect their companies and, by extension, their roles. They are like you—and me.
This was a glass-half-full crowd if ever I saw one, and I’ve seen plenty. It’s notable because this was a marked change from one and two years ago.
Keep in mind that corporate print buying professionals are their employers’ print specialists. So they should keep current with everything that’s now possible in print manufacturing. Experienced “lifers,” as I call them, do.
Customers that are just “passing through” on their way to a different career, do not. But these aren’t the people who come to our events, and I would bet money they don’t take advantage of any professional education opportunities. So we just have to accept that not all print buyers share the same passion for print—and focus on helping, reaching and teaching those who do.
I’m calling this season’s biggest print buyer trend “Chicago Hope,” in honor of the Print & Media crowd. They energized me. I hope it’s contagious.