Equipment Lists — Still an Important Tool for Print Buyers

One of the fun parts of my job is to reveal what print buyers think. And sometimes their views surprise print suppliers (and therefore provide me with a modicum of job security). This was the case last week when I asked printers and print buyers separately about the value of printers’ equipment lists.

Most printers believe that, on average, print buyers are less educated than they used to be. While that may be the case, it’s also assumed that today’s print buyer doesn’t have much knowledge of print equipment or isn’t as interested in a printer’s equipment list.

According to last week’s Print Buyers Online.com survey of 91 top print buyers, that assumption is incorrect. When we asked the question, “When considering a prospective print supplier, how much do you rely on a printer’s equipment list?,” 76% of print buyers said: “I think printers’ equipment lists can be very useful in understanding what a printer specializes in and its limitations.”

One print buyer said “I require it when considering a printer. No List, don’t bother.” Another concurred by saying “I think it’s pretty difficult to qualify a new printer for a specific job without it. I don’t want to place a web mailer with a sheetfed-only printer, and in-house finishing capabilities (or lack thereof) can have tremendous impact on costs. I’ve known print salespeople who will accept virtually any job and farm out those that don’t fit the plant. I’d prefer to know where my job is printed and on what type of equipment so I can control the outcome and the printer I’ve contracted can control the schedule.”

Interestingly, when we asked print suppliers in a separate quick poll if they thought equipment lists are important to print buyers, only 30% thought that buyers found the lists “very useful.” The majority thought that print buyers didn’t find equipment lists to be useful.

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Comments
  • http://ErinHynek Erin Hynek

    I’m amazed when I go on a company’s website and can’t find any mention of an equipment list. Makes me believe they have something to hide or perhaps they don’t really print in-house. I use printer’s websites on a regular basis … even suppliers I use on an ongoing basis. I can’t possibly remember every single capability of every printer so sometimes I use the website to refresh my memory. <br />
    Additionally, when a supplier cold calls me, I usually look for their website before I even call them back. That way I already have some idea of what they do and if I’m interested in learning more. If the website doesn’t have an equipment list, I usually dismiss them immediately.<br />
    Printers, please post your equipment list on your website!

  • http://DavidSchwalje David Schwalje

    Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of specific equipment is very important. Selling niche applications and mainstream jobs with steady repeat work and good margins requires knowledge of the equipment not only to get the best cost but equally important this knowledge properly communicated to the print buyer helps them with their objectives which they normally do not share with sales people.

  • http://StanKonwiser Stan Konwiser

    You heard from the print savy buyers in your survey. Many people who buy printing as part of their jobs probably didn’t even see the survey in the first place.<br />
    <br />
    I find that there are 2 types of print buyers: Those that know printing and those whose knowledge falls in a different area of the marketing/communications spectrum. Many buyers of printing for direct mail are very familiar with lists, sampling, demographics and mailing; but are not print knowlegable and consequently won’t have much use for equipment lists. As many equipment savy print buyers don’t know much about mailing. Seaward, as a Project Management company that has no manufacturing equipment, invests in the knowledge of our employees to manage expertly all aspects of the project, from design, copy, premedia, production and distribution. We take the knowledge load off the customer so they can do what they are really good at: marketing their product. <br />
    <br />

  • http://DianeToomey Diane Toomey

    From a sales perspective, the equipment list is not what we are selling, (see related column, "Sales Reps: Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em"), but of course, a print buyer needs to know what equipment is available in order to make the quoting process make sense. Printing covers such a vast array of specialties, that knowing equipment is a MUST!