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Was 2015 a good year for print buying?

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: Was 2015 a good year for print buying?

Good year? Bad year? This is a very hard question to answer

A lot happened in 2015. We can all pick what we think were the most important events of 2015. We’d all have different answers! (For me, it was my first visit to Graph Expo.)

So rather than analyse specific events and launches, I have decided to focus on three trends that I think were important during the year. Here is the first one:

2015 was the year print became relevant again

This is a bit of a controversial point. I would happily argue that print has never been irrelevant. People like Google and LinkedIn have been using it for a good while now.

But this year there was a huge increase in blogs as part of their marketing efforts. This wasn’t just from printing companies. People such as The Washington Post, Huffington Post and Marketing Profs were all advising people to use print.

Print is now seen as an effective way to cut through all the digital noise. Even social media scheduling services such as Buffer are admitting that their engagement has dropped off.

So that’s all good! Or is it?

The print industry didn’t shout about the opportunities enough


2015: a good year for print buying?

There was a remarkable lack of publicity from many in the print industry. Most buyers appeared to be purchasing what they are told to. They aren’t making the case for print. That means, potentially, they are in danger of losing their jobs.

I’m hoping that in 2016 buyers, equipment manufacturers and printing companies will all be promoting the medium they purchase. Otherwise print buyers are in danger of becoming irrelevant.

There was one other interesting trend that I saw in 2015.

There was a gentle shift away from buying on price

Anecdotally, I have heard that some buyers are being a bit less hard on printers. They are realising that they need key vendors to survive. They are also realising that the cheapest price does not necessarily equal the best results for their business.

This doesn’t mean that price is still very important for buyers. But, according to recent research by PrintMediaCentr, price currently ranks only third on the list of buyer priorities.

So what does this all mean for 2015?

I think we can say that 2015 was a good year for print buying. There is a way to go for buyers to make sure that they are still valued in the years to come. But it looks as though the channel that they purchase is becoming more valued. In addition, it looks like there is a need for people who understand what they are buying rather than just purchasing on price.

Overall, that earns a big thumbs up from me!

How did Deborah tackle this question? See here. Look out for the next #UKvUSA battle next month: What Should Buyers Beware of in 2016!

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