#UKvUSA – UK v USA: What investments matter to Print Buyers?

Two continents: US and UK. Two different buying backgrounds: procurement and agency. Two alternative ways of looking at things. I’m delighted to have teamed up with Deborah Corn from PrintMediaCentr to bring two extremely different views to some important print questions. So welcom e to Print Buying: #UKvUSA where Deborah and I share information about our experiences from both sides of the pond.

At the end of this post I have linked to Deborah’s answer to the same question. We wrote our answers (each limited to 500 words) without any idea of what the other was writing. As Deborah says: “Maybe we will agree, maybe we won’t, maybe we don’t even see the question in the same way – who knows… that’s the fun part!”

Please do leave comments, thoughts and support at the bottom of this post and on Deborah’s post.   It would be great if also posted your thoughts on Twitter, using the hashtag #UKvUSA Remember to watch out for our answers to another question next month.

#UKvUSA – UK v USA: What investments matter to Print Buyers?

If printers do not invest with their customers in mind, then they are likely to go out of business pretty quickly. There’s a lot buyers can do to help shape the journey of their key suppliers.

Here are three points that printing companies should keep in mind if they want to engage customers with their investments. The first of these is worryingly basic!

Print buyers like investment with a plan attached to it

I remember speaking to one printer who had just invested millions of pounds in two new presses. But when I talked to them, they openly admitted that they had no five-year business plan. This was one of the biggest printers in the UK!

Many printers still seem to buy new presses on the basis that the sales team will just have to go out and sell the extra capacity. That leads to messages along the lines of “We’ve got a new press now, so we’re cheaper.” That was the actual opening line of a sales call I once received.

Investment along these lines does not inspire the confidence of buyers. Printers should also remember the next point, if they want to inspire customer confidence.

Investment isn’t just about equipment and workflow

How do you engage your customers through investment?

How do you engage your customers through investment?

Having the right equipment and an efficient workflow is vital for a printer and their customers. But it is important to realise that the right relationship and business results are built on so many other issues.

Printing companies should be investing in their team as well. Staff need to be up to date with all the right print knowledge. They also need to be skilled in the best ways to deal with their clients. Customers want to know that their suppliers are investing in customer service. But many want more than this.

Printing companies should also be investing in their clients. It is well worth investing in workshops and time to build up the knowledge of buyers. This is especially relevant now that most buyers have less understanding in what is possible with print. It is very beneficial to both parties to ensure that customers know what is possible in print, as well as how to get the best from their suppliers. Buyers appreciate this type of investment.

There’s another way buyers could be involved in the investment process as well.

Buyers want printers to talk to them

Printers should talk to their customers about what they want from their suppliers. A good question is “What would my company look like if it was created especially for you?” I have seen many customers come up with great strategies for their suppliers.

Some companies are good at starting this type of conversation. As a buyer, I have had in depth discussions with a number of my suppliers about what might shape their next investments.

If companies do not have these conversations, buyers should start them instead. They have the opportunity to help shape their suppliers.

Buyers should be involved in their suppliers’ investments

Naturally, the final decisions come down to the printer. But both buyer and supplier should be seeking to have a conversation about how a supplier evolves.

How did Deborah tackle this question? See here. Look out for the next #UKvUSA battle next month.

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