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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.


Should Printers Have Gold Membership Cards?

I love Starbucks. I love the coffee in particular...but it goes deeper than that.

I love that they’re everywhere. I love my neighborhood Starbucks, where the baristas know my name. I love to see the other regulars there.

As much as anything, I love how they treat me. You see, I’m a Gold-Card-carrying customer, and so help me, I know I sound shallow, but it makes me feel special. I load the card with cash every few weeks (I drink coffee like it’s water), and it comes with some nifty perks. (Or is it “percs”?)

Every so often, I get a black-and-gold postcard in the mail, telling me I’ve earned a free tall drink of my choice.

I also get a complimentary tall drink of my choice whenever I buy a pound of Starbucks coffee. I like that, too.

Come September, I get another black-and gold postcard. It’s my Happy-Birthday-Margie-get-a-complimentary-tall-drink-of-your-choice card.

I’m hooked on this Gold Card rewards program. So I wondered: could printers come up with something similar?

I know you can’t stay in business by giving away free printing. And comparing a $2 cup of coffee with a $1,200 print order isn’t exactly apples to apples.

Still, a feel-good loyalty program that comes with benefits attached works so well in retail, I think we should come up with something comparable in the printing sector.

What could you afford to give away in a loyalty program?
  • Personalized note cards and matching envelopes?
  • Complimentary upgrade in paper worth $XXX?
  • Extra special discount on a special promotion?
  • Invitation to bi-annual lunch with the CEO?

Maybe the answer is to make every customer feel special. That would still require a plan and a procedure that’s written down, shared with every sales, service and production person on your staff, and posted on your website.

Since so much of printing looks equally good these days, customer retention is somewhat dependent on how your customers are treated and how their business is valued.

What do you do to make your customers feel like royalty? What’s your Gold Card offer?

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