Standout Printers

When I think about what separates an ordinary printer from a real standout, my mind circles around characteristics and behaviors that don’t even deal with putting ink on a substrate. (Because all customers expect you to do that well, don’t they?)

These days, printing companies that understand print’s changing role in business communications appear to be the headline makers. They have accepted the power and the reality of new media tools that have won the hearts of consumers and corporations. They get it.

Standout printers aren’t in denial. They recognize the seduction of social media, like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and have been participating in them with excitement (if not a well-crafted strategy just yet).

They’re using these media for all the right reasons: to inform, to learn, to spread their own brand, and to meet people who are influencers in related fields. And they’re using them for another simple reason: to avoid being left behind.

They’re testing out new media on themselves and their own firms as they (perhaps) prepare to offer this sort of strategizing to their clients. I love that about them. They’re not using social media for nonstop self-promotion.

Exceptional printing firms make it their business to learn about their customers’ businesses. What are the burning trends and challenges their customers face, and more to the point, what kinds of communications solutions would help them grow or help them solve problems? Standout printers connect these dots for their customers by developing strategies that relieve customers’ pain and, quite often, offer up a healthy dose of dazzling creativity. These solutions may involve only print, but just as likely, they involve other media as well.

You won’t find standout printers’ heads in the sand. They are openly interested in following communication technology trends and are as likely to attend events, conferences and networking meetings that focus on electronic media as those on print media. If it makes sense for a printer to offer services involving other media, these are the printers who will do it. The standouts will surprise all of us when they master email marketing, QR codes, augmented reality, mobile advertising, social media marketing and on and on…and offer these to their market right along with print collateral. I think many customers are waiting for that day to come.

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://MaryBethSmith Mary Beth Smith

    Well said, Margie!

    Our industry simply MUST lose the “sibling rivalry” with digital media, and incorporate it into our family of communications solutions, both for our own marketing and as an area of expertise to offer our customers.

  • http://MartyKauls Marty Kauls

    Hear, hear!

  • http://JohnHodgman John Hodgman

    Margie’s article on “standout printers” hits the nail on the head. Keep up the good work.

  • http://BrianDriscoll Brian Driscoll

    Hi Margie,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I have never been so excited to be in the printing business as I have been in the last few months. We have a story to tell and our clients and prospective clients are listening. We are using Facebook and Twitter to get our message out and it seems to be working. Our message is a unique one and we are proud to share it with others.

  • http://Kelly Kelly

    I love what you are saying here, Margie, and I totally agree. I have been trying to convince many printers to embrace these emerging technologies; even small ones like blogs and electronic newsletters, as tools that can help AUGMENT what they are already doing. Instead of being afraid, they should dip their toes in and see that it is not so scary to try something new. Great entry!

  • http://MargieDana Margie Dana

    Thanks for your comments, everyone! I feel strongly that printers (companies, owners, sales reps) need to keep up with new media and jump in. Those who do can experience what their customers are dealing with, get a sense of the attraction – and limitations – and be seen as professionals who are interested in moving ahead, not standing still. Honestly, the headline makers I read about in the trade media are these forward thinkers.

  • http://DomenicDiRenzo Domenic DiRenzo

    Fully Agree,
    The days of just ink on paper are virtually over!

    Great Article.