The Pleasure Is All Theirs

Yesterday, I received the following sentiment in “Margie’s Print Tips,” and I want to share it with you. As a longtime fan of printing, it spoke to me and I know it will speak to many of you…

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I had a run-of-the-mill Tip all ready to publish today, when I realized that it is nearly Thanksgiving – a time to step back and reflect on the gifts we have been given.

With a healthy family, a home of our own, and a career that I love, I am absolutely aware that I live a bountiful life.

But today’s column is not about me; it’s about an often-overlooked quality among professionals who buy print for a living.Many journalists and researchers (myself included) have written that today’s buyers are most interested in the following:

  • Getting great value for their money spent on print
  • Working with a smaller number of preferred vendors
  • Ensuring that the prices they receive are competitive
  • Learning about new technologies from their print reps
  • Working with printers who take responsibility
  • Finding printers who can meet their deadlines
  • Partnering with printers who are creative and can offer solutions, not just a manufactured product
  • Working with print reps who communicate well and who are easy to reach
  • Working with print reps who are honest, above all else

All of these statements are factual. I’ve been close to (and was once part of) the buyer community for 25 years, and those bulleted items ring true for the majority of experienced professionals.

What’s missing from this list is a most special quality that unites most professional buyers.Print buyers get great joy out of working with the print industry.

For years I have witnessed this. For many assignments and client projects, I’ve had to interview buyers from all industries. They may have fallen into their first production job by accident, but they chose to remain in the field for the long term, because it is thatsatisfying.

Recently I went to an event hosted by Bookbuilders of Boston (www.bbboston.org) to hear Frank Romano give a talk entitled, “The Book.” (It was fascinating and chock full of great data, by the way.)

A local buyer emailed me a few days earlier, asking me to look for him there. “I’ll be the tall guy with a ‘Born to Buy Print’ tattoo,” he wrote. How great a concept is that?

Just last week, I had an opportunity to speak at length with a buyer in the insurance company. A full 100% of her time is spent working on printed materials for her company. She started out 20 years ago working for an ad agency in media. Then she moved over to the client side in marketing and loved the print aspect. So she made the decision to stick with print production “and never looked back.”

But then she blurted out something that will forever stick with me:

“I can’t get through the day without a printer.”

It is not only indicative of her love of working with printers; it is a perfect expression that captures what I’ve witnessed – and experienced – for decades. Print buyers who have been in the business for a good while are united by this sentiment.

If you haven’t been a commercial print buyer, whose days are filled with hundreds of details, mini crises, tough challenges and, yes, headaches, working with an industry that offers new technologies left and right, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Pity the poor soul who works in a field that is static and predictable. B-O-R-I-N-G.

Print customers who source and manage a lot of print take pride and joy in their work. They are perhaps the biggest fans of this shrinking industry. I’m guessing that in their organizations, they are vocal champions of print. This makes them print lobbyists, doesn’t it? It is a comforting notion. On the job, day by day, they fight to make a lasting impression with print, as newer media vie for attention. We should stand behind them, or beside them, and cheer.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Margie Dana, Founder of Print Buyers International, writes Margie’s Print Tips, a free weekly enewsletter, to build bridges in the industry. Subscribe at www.printbuyersinternational.com. PBI produces an annual print buyers conference and Print Buyer Boot Camps, as well.

© 2008 Margie Dana. All rights reserved.
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