Greetings Citizens of the Printerverse!

This post is about results from my 2017 Print Buyer Survey. The survey background info can be found here. If you haven’t read it please do that first, it will be helpful. Additional results can be found in this post: 2017 Print Buyer Survey Says: When it Comes to Driving Print Sales, Stay in Your Lane 


2017_print-media-centr_print buyer survey_Time

I have always had a pet peeve over the “Price, Quality, Speed” value triangle conversation, and the premise that you can only have 2 of the 3 delivered at the same time. In advertising and marketing this is actually referred to as the “unattainable triangle” and the principle is that any business that tries to attain/deliver on all 3, would go out of business.

Service providers maximize profits by “sacrificing” one side of the triangle, however looking at this from the customer view I believe “sacrifice” is on the wrong end of this equation. Customers are the ones giving something up, not the service providers. The sales conversation about picking 2 (price, quality, speed) is an antiquated and potentially dangerous approach since we now experience the world in instant gratification terms. Someone out there will do what we need, when we need it, for the price we can pay — at least once.

But have no fear PMC readers! Based on my survey results it is possible to revisit the triangle conversation and the standard talking points associated and start new conversations about TIME with customers… something they always need.

I asked the survey respondents: Which are you willing to sacrifice barring any other options – Price for Quality, Price for Time, Quality for Time or Time for Quality?

The results:

38% would pay MORE to get their jobs when they need them completed.

32% would GIVE more time to achieve quality.

21% would pay MORE for quality.

9% would SACRIFICE quality for time.

We addressed the definition of quality in a previous post. Without getting into semantics, the subtext behind the results to this question can certainly fit within the current unattainable triangle. But why retrofit and explain “speed sacrifice” with customers when the door is wide-open for a conversation and value proposition about time, itself. Here are 3 ways you can start…

Who Needs More Time? The answer to this is probably everyone if you have clients like the ones surveyed, but I am sure that a few stand out as consistent “drop-dead extension” requestors. Talk to those people in between jobs. Perhaps there is a more efficient way to help them with pre-flight, file submissions, proofing, finishing and shipping so there is more time on both ends to complete jobs. The bigger picture here is that you recognize time is important, they need more, and you want to help.

Set The Alarm! Postage rates and paper pricing fluctuate, but there is warning. This is a perfect moment to contact customers, make them aware of upcoming market changes and help them effectively and efficiently plan. A high-volume mailer can save tens of thousands by buying postage and paper before any increases, or wait until pricing goes down if that is the current situation. Remember, this is a TIME conversation …aka in 3 months postage goes up; lets get your work moving and printed before that, which will result in… fill in the blanks. The same applies for buying paper in bulk when possible.

Map It Out. While there are always exceptions, and most of the print customers surveyed probably benefit from them, time is money in business. Create a generic schedule of what constitutes a “rush” and what doesn’t for the typical projects you work on. Highlight when there is little rush wiggle room (i.e. winter holidays) and anything else during the year that can affect timing. Give the info to customers so they can use it to schedule upcoming work appropriately and push clients and internal teams when needed. This timing outline is a guideline and most likely these customers won’t follow it. Even with that said, it will be very handy for others, and appreciated by all that you cared enough to create it.

The results show that these buyers will pay more to get their work when they need it, however why play that game and eventually open yourselves up to a biding war with other printers/brokers/print management services who sell on price. Help your customers be effective buyers and provide value to their organizations. That makes you more valuable, and the triangle obsolete.

Print Long and Prosper!


DeborahCorn-PrintMediaCentrDeborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr, a Print Buyerologist™, Integrated Marketer, Industry Speaker and Blogger, Cultivator of the Print Production Professionals Group, the #1 Print Group on LinkedIn, and host of #PrintChat, a weekly industry gathering on Twitter every Wednesday at 4PM ET. She has 25+ years experience working in advertising as a Print Producer, and currently works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers and industry organizations helping them to achieve success with their social media marketing endeavors, and create meaningful relationships.

Connect with Deborah: Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / Instagram / YouTube / Pinterest / Print Production Professionals Group / deborah@printmediacentr.com

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