Dear Printers: Where WERE You?

Year after year, we offer print buyer programs at Graph Expo in Chicago—and at our own PBI conference here in New England. Yet very few printers show up.

Seriously, I don’t get it. Everyone’s welcome to attend these events. I guess it’s not clear. Recently we welcomed about 50 senior-level print buyers at Graph Expo in Chicago, where they took part in the Print Buyer Forum over two days. Another 50 attended our basic Print Buyer Boot Camp!™ the previous day.

A handful of print providers were in the audience—and were welcomed there. From what I could tell, they were thanking their lucky stars that they were a part of the discussions, which covered a lot of ground:

• Doing press OKs and how to talk to press operators.
• What to look for when doing a printing plant tour.
• How to choose the best printers for what you need.
• The challenges print buyers face within their own organizations.
• The evolution of the corporate print buyer.
• Software tools favored by print buyers to help manage their work.
• “Vendor report cards” and “onboarding” procedures.
• The effect of cross-media’s popularity on print buyers’ roles.
• Buyers and print brokers.
• The value of a printer’s equipment lists.
• Best buyer resources in 2010.
• Becoming more influential as print buyers.

Believe me, this is just a short list of what we covered over three days in Chicago. It’s a no brainer that being present at these sessions and contributing to the conversation was helpful to the buyers there.

But wouldn’t this experience be equally valuable to print company owners, sales reps and suppliers? Even if you didn’t contribute, you’d get a great education in “Print Customers in 2010” by just sitting there and listening…listening to customers talk.

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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  • http://LarryBauer Larry Bauer

    Perhaps you need to make a clearer case that printers aren’t intruders, and even include some topics that invite both groups to participate in the discussion. I can understand how printers might feel uncomfortable.

  • http://MargieDana Margie Dana


    Thanks loads for this point. As clear as I think we are in our site copy and promotional offers, you might be right in that service providers don’t really know that they are welcome.

    Every year, we do get a handful in the audience, but from now on I will take your suggestion to heart and do a better job of communicating this.

    In our Brainstorming session, which is “mine” to run, we welcome and actively encourage comments from everyone – including providers.

    Thanks again. I really appreciate your point.