Talking Turkey with Three Veteran Print Buyers
I recently moderated a 60-minute conversation with three seasoned buying professionals during an online event that was hosted by Printing Impressions and sponsored by Canon. Before I forget the best bits, here they are.
My guests were all highly experienced print buyers that featured Linda Basnik, with Rotary International; Melissa Carter, with DCRI (Duke Clinical Research Institute); and Wendy Torchio, with Charming Shoppes, a subsidiary of Ascena Retail Group.
They graciously agreed to talk about what printers can (and should) do to get their attention. It was fascinating. You can access this recorded webinar for the next 90 days.
The key takeaways for me were these:
- Cold calling can work. As long as a printer does his or her homework on the prospect’s company and keeps the call or message short and sweet, this method can bring results. The buyers noted that they chose printers after a random cold call when they had a particular need and the printer was a perfect fit.
- Equipment lists matter (at least to these three veteran print buyers). I swear I didn’t discuss this ahead of time with them, but you know I’ve been advocating for equipment lists for years. See my last post. Note: Equipment lists probably have little if any value for people brand new to the field.
- Print buyers are loyal to their reps. All three buyers agreed that they tend to follow a favorite rep if he or she leaves to work at another printer.
- Print distributors (aka 'brokers') are no longer "the bad guys." This was, for me, the biggest eye opener. Five or 10 years ago, seasoned print buyers strongly preferred working with print manufacturers. But times and tastes have changed. One buyer added this warning: "Don’t call yourself a broker. Say 'Print Service Provider.'"
- Print buyers like getting out to meet printers. One said, "I love socializing with them...meet and greets, print tours, whatever the event—they’re important."
- Direct mail from printers is not seen as effective or impactful. This was the consensus among the three guests, and it also surprised me. Not having enough space in an office was a consideration. One speaker noted she’d received a piece that included a video that gave a plant tour. She watched a bit of it and then tossed it, noting how expensive that project must have been.
- Referrals are effective if they come from someone you already trust. I don’t see how anyone can argue with this. Enough said.
So in the end, how should a printer approach a prospect?
One guest said it perfectly: "Slowly make yourself known to me." A short telephone call, a short email and so forth will do the trick. Keep in touch with a prospect so that over time you go from stranger to acquaintance to (hopefully) valued colleague.
I really enjoyed that live event. It’s so important to hear from the print buying community.
Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched a new business as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. She is as comfortable working in social media as she is in traditional media, and now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content. Dana was the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference.
Although she has exited the event business, Dana is still publishing her Print Tips newsletter each week. For more details and to sign up for her newsletter and marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com