What Print Buyers DO Want

Earlier this summer, a printer e-mailed me to ask if I had a handy list of what print buyers want. A “simple list” is what he actually called it. There’s nothing simple about such a list, because print buyers are not all the same.

My last blog post was a list of 22 things print buyers DON’T want. Today, let’s be more positive! Here’s my list, in no particular order, of what print buyers DO want:

Value—They’re no different from any other customer of any other product/service in this regard.

To be kept in the loop—Let them know about the status of their work in progress, particularly deadline-related issues, potential problems, etc.

The TRUTH—This should be at the top of the list, I guess. Buyers always list “honesty” among the top three qualities they seek in a print rep. Don’t hide the truth, don’t obfuscate things, don’t switch papers without their knowledge, etc.

Alternatives—Even though some customers say they don’t want your suggestions for production tips that will improve their product and/or save money, I’d offer them anyway. You’re not just an order taker, are you?

Creative ideas—Building on point #4, offer customers creative and innovative ideas that relate to their materials, their company, and their particular industry. I think this will make you more memorable than anything else.

Project management tools—Do you have software or other products that will streamline processes for customers? It’s something every buyer wants.

Printers who take responsibility—Sooner or later, everyone screws up a job…or a deadline…or a small detail that got forgotten. How you deal with mistakes or delays is very important to customers. Now is not the time to play dodge ball. Own it!

Accessibility to sales and service reps—Surely everyone knows this one. It’s something you have to live with: customers want to be able to reach you whenever, wherever. Sorry.

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  • http://ShellyRushton Shelly Rushton

    Thank you! As usual, your insight has been very resourceful!

  • http://MargieDana Margie Dana

    Thanks, Shelly, very kind of you to say so :) Have I left anything off this list? Add your own 2 cents…

  • http://BruceMcCurley Bruce McCurley

    This is a list that should be pasted to every sales rep and CSR’s forehead!

    Items 2, 7, 8 and 18 are especially troublesome when you have to drag the information out of them — if your contact person is not in a meeting or out of the office. Too many suppliers are still stuck in the 1990s when press time and paper were very difficult to find.

  • http://JimDavid Jim David

    Great list Margie. Need to read this list each morning!

  • http://ShellyRushton Shelly Rushton

    Hi Margie,

    I have over 20 years in the print business from operating printing equipment to estimating, purchasing and customer service. I can definitely relate to the customer service aspects and understand the buyer’s need for information, speed, accuracy, guidance and cost effective solutions. Now I am in a sales role and can definitely fit the bill on all of the above but there is just one thing that I’d like to know…How does the prospective buyer want to be contacted?

    I know that when I was in estimating/purchasing, drop in sales reps were often just as bothersome as the cold caller…but how does one contact a potential client, that’s not in your network, for the first time with out being intrusive to the potential client. Most very effective sales reps say that cold calling is still the most effective, outside of referral of course!

  • http://MargieDana Margie Dana


    Thank you. I’ve asked print buyers this question many times – How do they prefer to be contacted by printers they’ve never met? – and they consistently tell me: direct mail.

    Write a letter that’s not your standard, run-of-the-mill sales rep letter. Make it interesting. Describe why and how you offer something different. How do your products/services relate to this buyer?

    Of course, it should be well written and typo free. :)

    Now, if you happen to have a prospect’s email, would I be tempted to use it, and introduce myself via email? Yes.

    When you send him/her something in the mail, the key is this: make it relevant & distinctive.

    Good luck, and thanks again for your post.