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.

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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  • Karen

    This is a wonderful idea!! Thank you. I am going to attempt to put this into practice. I believe that there are many things that we could do without "breaking the bank".

  • over here in this line

    You sound like one of those "Patients" (not clients) all of us have to deal with.
    Its the printing industry, not food shopping. Want a favor ask for it.

  • SolutionsGuy

    How about the clients CSR send the buyer a "job status" report every morning, or the owner himself getting out of the office and personally delivering a job. What an incredible act of goodwill! If you really want to make the client feel special, offer to do up some signs or print some items for the company’s (not print buyers) favorite charity at no charge.

  • Alin Jacobs

    Today’s highly competitive and challenged marketplace demands that we make every customer feel as if they were our only customer.

    Years ago I had an account that consistently generated a sizable amount of direct mail revenue for our company. Every couple of months I would present management with a variety of creative direct mail concepts at no charge to show our appreciation. Not only was the spontaneous effort appreciated, on more than a few occasions the company opted to do an additional test mailing using the new creative.

    Happy customer, added revenue, now that’s a scenario that any printer could place their arms around.

  • Matthew Noonan

    Treat people the way you want to be treated. Treat clients like people/friends not like a source of cash and they will definitely feel special. How does it go…help them not sell them…no monetary reward needed. I do like SolutionsGuy’s idea of a status report…goes with being part of the Team idea.

  • slavaapel

    Some printeres allready offer membership rewards. Most of them are trade printers with large reseller networks. 4Over, PrinterGateway and a few others come to mind. In some cases, discounts are given either volume or subscription based.