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#UKvUSA: Three Questions Every Print Buyer Should Ask A Print Supplier

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: Three Questions Every Print Buyer Should Ask A Print Supplier


Only three?!

Anyone who buys print should constantly be asking suppliers a constant stream of questions. This applies to prospective new vendors and to the current supply base.

I have a whole vendor questionnaire with three pages of questions. Many of these are fairly obvious. So for this piece I have decided to focus on three questions that take the conversation a little further.

The first one should separate people who really want to help you as opposed to people who just want to put ink on paper.

How can you help my business?

The best sort of print supplier is one who does more than just print what you ask them to. They come up with ideas to help you. They come up with ideas either to save you costs (and, please note, that is very different from reducing prices!) or to grow your business.

Over the years, I have been given many great strategies like my suppliers on how to work more efficiently. They have saved me a lot of time and money. Other suppliers have guided me in ways to help grow profits. This advice has ranged from ideas on how to improve print products right through to complete commercial strategies.

Suppliers like this are worth paying more money for. But only if they can answer the next question suitably.

How good is your data management and security?

Okay, this question may not apply if you just want someone to print your business cards. But most of us are sending suppliers a lot of valuable data. This ranges from valuable client artwork through to the entire prospect databases.

My good friend Kevin Keane has been spreading the word about the need for good data security for a while now. I am still surprised at how few print suppliers actually have a secure data policy. In some instances, suppliers do not even have basic data backup procedures in place. Would you really trust someone like this with confidential business information?

I have one other question that I am going to share with you today. It may seem a little strange.

How often will you bring me cakes?

Much as I like cake, I ask this question for more serious reasons. It is actually a great way to find out more about a vendor’s culture. Does your contact have a sense of humour? Do they care about you enough as an individual to find out what type of cake you like best? Are they actually prepared to come out and visit you on a regular basis?

So you can see that this question is really rather useful. Naturally, the more health-conscious among you can substitute fruit for cake!

I would encourage you to ask all these questions to any prospective new suppliers

You may well find it interesting to ask them to your current suppliers as well. I’ll be fascinated to see what Deborah’s questions are.

How did Deborah tackle this question? See here.

Look out for the next #UKvUSA battle next month: “How can Print Suppliers make their email marketing/newsletter appealing to Print Buyers?”

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