Another Plug for Printing Plant Tours

Years ago, I wrote print company profiles for New England Printer & Publisher. The editor gave me my assignment—i.e., which company to be profiled—and then it was up to me to do the research for a 2,500-word profile, plus take photos. (That was funny. Believe me, I am no Margaret Bourke-White.)

Friends who were writers thought I was nuts to go to the trouble of actually visiting each plant, where I’d spend anywhere from three to five hours before writing the profile. “Why waste that time?” they ask. “Just call them up, do a phone interview, get them to send some photos, and be done with it.”

These friends may have been fellow marketing writers, but they sure as shootin’ weren’t print fanatics.

Imagine passing up the opportunity to visit a printing plant, spend time with management, meet lots of key people, including those who ran presses, headed up prepress and maybe worked in customer service.

I loved every minute of it.

Recently I wrote a Print Tip on the topic—“Top 10 Reasons to Do a Plant Tour”—because I’ve always thought the more you can get prospects or customers into your facility, the better for everyone.

As a journalist, I prefer to do an on-site tour and chat with people face to face. That’s when the company’s personality comes to life. I can get the dry stuff from your website—what equipment you have, photos of jobs you’ve printed, the history of the company, and so on. But only when I spend time in the plant, can I get a true sense of what makes a place tick. The same goes for customers and prospects.

When I interview a CEO or Sales Manager, I can ask questions about an individual’s background and uncover what specific talents, skills—even hopes and dreams—he or she brings to the business. This is much more fascinating stuff than identifying the make and model of presses and finishing equipment.

Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched her new business in 2013 as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. Now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content.

You may know Margie as the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference. Although she’s exited the event production business, she’s still publishing her Print Tips newsletter. She looks forward to helping companies create and style all of their content so their potential customers sit up and take notice. For details and to sign up for her Print Tips and new marketing blog, visit or e-mail Margie at
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  • print geek

    Margie, you are right on the money. Some of the best insights I gotten doing plant tours came from stopping and asking questions of folks not on the tour itinerary. One, "Yep, we do jobs like yours all the time" from a bindery operator can tell you a lot more about a plant than an entire pile of samples.

  • Elaine at VelocityPrint Soluti

    I absolutely agree with you. Print tours are invaluable for both the customer and the printer. We love having customers come visit us and see what we’re all about. It’s a great learning experience on both sides. Many times they don’t really know the full scope of what we can do and seeing is believing. So yes, we welcome the opportunity.