If I had one to offer just 4 words of advice to the paper industry, it would be these 4: Promote to print buyers!
After talking with dozens of print buyers, as well as reading the results of a PBI buyer survey we did recently, it’s clear that the paper industry is missing the boat when it comes to influencing print buyers.
Paper mills and merchants have a lot to gain by targeting buyers directly. They need to share news about product availability, industry updates, and (of course) they need to deliver paper education.
When I was a corporate print buyer, the paper industry targeted graphic designers but never print buyers. I remember a major annual paper show in Boston. It ran on two separate nights. The first night, they invited printers. The second night, they invited graphic designers.
Has this changed? Hard to say, but from the survey feedback we compiled, it seems that today’s buyers are not “feeling the love” from the industry. Some paper mills DO get it. They recognize that buyers/production pros spec and purchase paper. They are actively and publicly speaking directly to them.
All paper companies should be doing this.
Print buyers need to keep up with paper trends and paper education. I daresay that newcomers on the buying side have no clue about the paper trail: mill -> merchant -> printer -> customer (my shorthand).
Many aren’t familiar with merchants, nor have they worked directly with reps from mills or merchants. I know that spec reps are disappearing rapidly from the business. That’s the word I got from those surveyed – and boy, do buyers miss their spec reps!
Here are direct quotes from a few print buyers who weighed in on one key question: If you could deliver one message to the paper industry, what would you say?
- Don’t forget the print buyers.
- Send info about paper changes/stock directly to buyers.
- Don’t ignore the small buyers.
- Teach young print buyers about paper!
- Have more direct contact with print buyers.
- Educate design students better.
- Keep us apprised about price changes, new offerings and discontinued items.
- Teach the public that paper doesn’t “kill trees.”
It’s a constant theme: print buyers aren’t getting the information they want and need. The majority of professional print buyers – particularly the senior ones – spec paper. The paper industry needs to recognize this. Talk about opportunity! You’ll thank me for this advice.
© 2012 Margie Dana. All rights reserved. You’re free to forward this email. However, no part of this column may be reprinted without permission from the authors.