Buying Print Today? Same as It Ever Was

One of my favorite things to do in this business is listen to a group of print buying professionals. Just when I’m anticipating what they’re going to say…they surprise me. It simultaneously humbles and delights me.

So it was last week during one of the sessions at PBI Boston, our one-day regional conference—or get together, or party…OK, OK, it was all three.

The last session of the day was titled, “How to Source Printing in 2012: Best Practices.” I had selected three savvy pros from different industries to share their own philosophies on the subject. They had communicated with each other a bit via email, but as far as I know, they hadn’t shared their presentations.

I certainly didn’t know what they were going to say, but considering this is 2012 and the industry is in the middle of a ginormous shake up, I figured we’d hear about new strategies for finding printers. There I sat in the front row, fingers poised over my keyboard, waiting to type every word uttered.

What they said was so shocking, it blew me away. I could barely type.

Turns out, the tried-and-true, age-old practices of print buying are still—to this day—the best and most effective ones. There were no secret apps, no “silver bullet” formulas, and no shortcutting software to turn the business of buying commercial printing into a routine, foolproof task that anyone can do.

Au contraire. You have to be mindful and detail-oriented, creative and intelligent.

Here’s what we learned about sourcing print from these pros:

1) Buyers need to know their clients.

Who are you producing/sourcing for? What matters to them? Getting to know them is half the battle. Get inside their heads and make sure you appreciate what will make them happy in terms of the results.

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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  • linda

    That means it’s time to keep on keepin’ on – but step it up a notch (or two)! Print might be considered a commodity but service isn’t.

  • Bud Bailey

    I’ve been looking for an online print company for a while now that would pay me life time commissions on customers that I refer to them. I wanted them to be able to handle both the design and printing aspect of the relationship for me and then pay me for locating the client for them every time the client orders "Full color print products" I found that company this past February. The company is called ViralPrint. Many of our print buyers are well acquainted with ordering or processing printed related jobs online due to the growth of online print shops like Vista Print. Many of our customers have turned to these online print companies because of the prices that these companies offer them. As a printer, I use online print companies to outsource items that I don’t do in house or for large quantities of certain items and in the past I used wholesale to trade companies. ViralPrint is a little different than any other online printers that I know of. They are a wholesale to the public company. Anyone that joins ViralPrint as a free member can now purchase full color print products like business cards, post cards, banners, etc. at wholesale prices but they also now can earn compensation for anyone that they refer to ViralPrint. That’s right ViralPrint has brought a 5 level compensation plan to anyone that is part of ViralPrint. Now not only do I refer customers to ViralPrint, but my customers share ViralPrint with their business partners, vendors, customers, and friends because of the wholesale prices and the compensation that they can receive and I still earn compensation as well 5 levels deep.
    As print brokers, aren’t we all looking at ways to create relationships, larger customer bases and income without adding additional overhead to our companies. ViralPrint, I found is the easy no hazzle way to increase my customer base on a national and international level without adding large overhead expenses to my company. Many of our customers are experienced enough to order online and ViralPrint is professional enough to handle all their design and printing needs when it comes to full color work. I’m still developing and extending my local customer base and offering fast service to customers that don’t have the time to order online. But with ViralPrint I can now develop a national and international base of customers and use ViralPrint as a wholesale source for local customers.