The echo of the slogan from a clothing retailer always stuck with me: “An educated consumer is our best customer.” I want to encourage every printer to take it to heart. Are you educating your customers? You should be.
Now, many printers have told me (in a wink-wink, nudge-nudge kind of way) that they’d rather have uneducated customers. The better to hoodwink them, if you ask me. Note to these printers: you’ll find yourselves out of business. Printers I know and admire are focusing on customer education, and doing so professionally and effectively. Who do you think new customers will flock to?
Note to customers – and I especially mean corporate print buyers and designers: seek out printers who educate you. It’s indicative of a transparency that I applaud. So should you.
Rather than keep you in the dark (and out of the pressroom), enlightened printers who teach you their business really and truly empower you. You’ll experience a string of “a-ha moments” every time you learn something new about print manufacturing (and finishing and paper and direct mail tips), which will foster real career satisfaction and an enthusiasm for creating beautiful, memorable and effective print materials.
How do you spot such printers? Ask every printer you interview what they have in place to educate customers. Look at their web site carefully. Is there educational content, like a newsletter, blog, glossary or a “tips” or resource section? Do they host events for customers? Do they send out group emails that are more about information than self-promotion? Is the sales rep you’re working with someone who can teach you things about printing that you don’t know?
Naturally, this advice is most important for people new to the field. For example, say you work in marketing but have zero experience with commercial printers. Finding a printer (sales rep) who is able, prepared and willing to teach you what you need to know, and who will provide advice that helps you and your company (rather than himself and his commission check) is the most important criteria you can use – in my humble opinion.
And while there are other ways to gain knowledge and skill as a print customer (like coming to our PBI Print & Media Conference this fall), at the end of the day, when you’re sitting at your desk, struggling with how to approach a seemingly impossible print project, you want to be able to speed-dial your trusty printer to help brainstorm the best possible solution.
© 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 author.