Commercial printing will be purchased forever and a day, albeit in shrinking quantities. But pure print buying roles will fade away. They’ll go the route of the typesetter, eventually. While surveying over 300 professional buyers last summer, we saw movement of corporate buyers away from communications units and towards marketing departments – as well as purchasing/procurement, truth be told.
The profession of the print buyer is an actively evolving one. Print buyers of yesterday are marketers of today. In addition to handling print sourcing, they are doing a lot of other functions. In fact, 97% of buyers do non-print-related things in their daily work. The exact nature of these functions varies from company to company, agency to agency. This is good for the buyer, who can keep her print knowledge as a coveted specialty (wave that flag when applying for new positions!), but who can advance further, career-wise, as she masters new skills and broadens her media expertise. Professionals who are print-centric can only go so far. It’s a sad thing for me to type, but it’s true.
Here’s the good news: just as yesterday’s print sellers have evolved into modern marketers (call them marketing services providers if you want; I do), print buyers are evolving into marketing media specialists as well. There’s no universal title, no one-size-fits-all job description that I have seen. Print production specialists on the customer side are often in marketing environments, often in purchasing environments, and often in design environments. Responsibilities vary.
They are in charge of their own career paths, and they should use their mastery of print production as a special talent that fewer and fewer businesspeople will have.
The opportunities for print buying pros, when seen this way, are tremendous. Master new channels – and go wherever you want.
© 2013 Margie Dana. All rights reserved.