Now I wish I’d taped it. The panel of four that I put together for the 2016 NEDMA Conference shared so much good information about working with printers, that I should’ve called it a Master Class. What they talked about would interest so many people on “both sides of the aisle.
There were a lot of printers in the audience, and I’m OK with that. The marketers who were there seemed to be on the younger side, and I’m especially OK with that.
The print buying pros (no one has that title, BTW) and I spent 50 minutes discussing what it’s like working “in” print today, and along the way their love of print – and printing – couldn’t be masked.
Two were from the agency side. One works in a university setting. The fourth, a former printer, is with a major women’s clothing retailer. Different histories. Different fields. All united by their deep experience in or with commercial printing.
Do they find themselves having to defend the use of print? Not all of them. Our panelist from Talbots vehemently replied, “No. Never.”
They spoke about the importance of doing a facility visit before working with a printer. One or more said they wouldn’t work with a printer whose facility they hadn’t visited.
I’ve heard this before.
I’d given them all a short list of questions ahead of time, but I also went off script when the spirit moved me.
“What’s the most important quality for a printer to have in order for you to work with that company?” I asked.
What’s that, you say? It had to be about price? Au contraire. “Price” never crossed their lips.
But the panelists did name the following traits:
- Flexibility and resilience.
- Follow-through and trust.
- Trust – and being thought of as a good client.
These echo comments I’ve heard from buyers for years.
One thing that’s changed about working with printers is that it’s not just about getting something printed. Today print is part of a campaign. It works with other channels. There’s integration. And there’s a lot of data that’s analyzed and used.
There was an extended discussion about how working with printers is a relationship business. Mariah of Hunt Direct said that she considers her printers a part of her team.
Finding experienced print production pros to be a part of their teams is challenging. Print knowledge is rare today, so they train and mentor.
Having run dozens of panels over the years, I tell you this was a special one. These four professionals offered important insights for printers as well as marketers. Hopefully, people in the audience took notes.