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#UKvUSA: 5 reasons why print buyers should attend industry trade shows


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 welcome 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: 5 reasons why print buyers should attend industry trade shows

It seems that fewer and fewer buyers are taking the time to leave their offices. Sure, the pressure of work is ever greater. However, there are some very compelling reasons as to why buyers should make time in their schedules to go and visit tradeshows. The first of these is to future-proof their skills.

See the future

Trade shows are the best place to see the latest technologies and workflows. Often what you see is not even at the beta test stage. But that means you are getting a glimpse of what may happen over the next few months and years.

This is a great insight into industry trends. It shows how you might be developing your print strategy – and your career strategy.

But what about developing your role right now? Trade shows help here too.

Get inspiration

Do you want to see the sexiest print? Do you want to see the most creative use of data? Or the most mind-boggling artwork ideas?

Only the best of the best get to be shown at trade shows. Exhibitors want to show the most awesome results that their products can achieve. Trade shows are a great place to come back from with new ideas for products and campaigns. Chances are that you’ll be able to get a hands-on sample as well.

But trade shows aren’t just about inspiration: they are about practical knowledge as well.

Learn technical know-how

Trade shows can really help you get your head round complicated subjects. They are a chance to find out exactly what machines and workflows can achieve. It’s the sort of information that suppliers don’t always want to share with you.

I once persuaded one of my print suppliers to totally rearrange their binding line in order to get the results I wanted. I learned that knowledge from a trade show.

Tradeshows are also about people.


With a bit of luck, many of your peers will be going to the same show. You have the opportunity to meet current and potential new suppliers. You may also have te opportunity to make valuable contacts with press manufacturers and the suppliers of software and other solutions.

Every time I go to a trade show I let everyone know that I will be there. I e-mail and use LinkedIn and Twitter. It doesn’t take me long to fill up a busy schedule of appointments with interesting people to talk to.

There’s one more reason that trade shows are worth attending.


Need some more USB sticks? Want a fancy T-shirts? Or do you just want something to hang up on the office wall? Tradeshows are the place to go!

So make sure you make some time in your diary. Check out what’s coming to your area. Don’t just restrict yourself to print. Remember, marketing and e-communication events can be just as useful.

How did Deborah tackle this question? See here.

Look out for the next #UKvUSA battle next month: “Why print buyers will never read your emails”

PS There are some more very useful networking ideas in my free e-book below.  Make sure you download your copy for free right now.

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