Increasingly, printers have to define their services in new and creative ways. The truth is, most commercial printers have always done creative and magical work, and they’ve helped their customers design and produce materials that win awards and make lasting impressions. It’s just that they never quite found the right terminology to position themselves. Now, they have to.
As time passes, it gets harder and harder to tell commercial printers apart. Professional print buyers and designers know how important it is to choose printers who have similar capabilities. When considering new print partners, they consult with peers. They interpret equipment lists. They interview printers and try to find out what a company’s really all about. They read between the lines and do their own sort of background check. It’s a wonderful skill set that takes years to hone.
Without these skills, it’s tough to distinguish between printers, for so very many of them are so very alike.
There’s one perk that a lot of printing companies offer but very few promote: access to other professionals. Printers are social networkers of the best kind. They spend time with lots of creatives. Let’s face it: they get around.
I’ve lost track of all of the introductions that printers have made for me in my career, but there have been dozens. Whether or not a sales rep makes a dime off of this “social largesse,” he or she is deepening the customer relationship every time an introduction is made.
Here are just some of the connections printers have in the creative community:
- Graphic designers
- Web site designers
- AV firms
- Direct mail experts
- Promotional items specialists
- Marketing consultants
- Mail houses
If I sold print, I’d be this kind of salesperson – someone who’s known for my generosity of spirit and willingness to help clients out, no matter what they needed.
That’s part of what I would “sell.” My resourcefulness. My eagerness to help customers. My broad network.
If you’re a print customer, you probably get this benefit from your best printers. Isn’t it a valuable benefit?
This is not to suggest that customers should take advantage of printers’ connections, but it’s something no one really talks about. So I am. Here’s to printers who help their customers find the right creative when the need is there.
If you’re a printer, encourage your sales reps to be resourceful in this way. If you’re a customer who’s lucky enough to work with such printers, take a minute to thank them and tell your colleagues.
(c) 2014 Margie Dana.