Matthew Parker and I haven’t always seen eye to eye when it comes to Print Buying. He comes from the UK “procurement” world, and I come from the USA “agency” world. I see his buying experience to be about numbers, and mine to be about a creative process. He has bought print in volumes I have never come near, and I have worked on custom one-offs for presentations that have cost many thousands of dollars. We used to actually argue about process, but over the years it has turned into a mutual respect. However, that doesn’t mean we now agree, or see things the same way! As a matter of fact, most of the time we don’t. So we decided to turn that into Print Buying: #UKvUSA and share information about our experiences from both sides of the pond!
At the end of my post, is a link to Matthew’s post on the same subject. We didn’t read each other’s response before writing our own so what you see here, and will see moving forward, is authentic. We will be dueling each month! Maybe we will agree, maybe we wont, maybe we don’t even see the question in the same way – who knows… that’s the fun part! We have also agreed to a 500 or less word count to keep things fair and moving along.
Please do leave comments and if you happen to support one side over the other let us know on either blog! I am proudly representing TEAM USA, and we are using #UKvUSA on Twitter.
Whose Responsibility Is It To Educate Print Buyers?
This question comes up a lot, and with traditional buyers rolls changing and merging it is certainly warranted. My answer might be a bit surprising, but I feel it is the responsibility of buyers to educate themselves!
Let me elaborate…
We don’t all work in places where we have access to mentors, formal education and events, but we do have access to the Internet. Starting with the simplest approach, find your people! LinkedIn is probably the best place to begin the hunt, and I just happen to have a Print Buyers only group filled with experts who are willing to share their knowledge! And learning from people who have the same responsibilities, goals, issues, and personalities to deal with is always a bonus.
Next stop on the education express should be our partners… printers, service providers, marketing technologists and so on. Never be afraid to ask a question! It doesn’t matter if you think it’s remedial, or if you are concerned that you will expose yourself for not knowing everything there is to know about print production and print media. At the end of the day remember these two things… you are a customer, and learning more about the products and services your vendors provide will make you a better customer… and more than likely a loyal one. Your partners will want to help you, and if they don’t, find new ones!
Last, and this is a bit trickier, but buyers should go directly to the source for education… aka the press manufactures. I say it’s trickier because most of this is going to be independent study and research until you have a basic grasp of the presses out there, and what they can do. YouTube is an amazing resource for this, but I would suggest you look for and focus on content based upon design and execution. Many of the videos the manufacturers put out there are very technical; because quite frankly they are there to sell machines to printers, not help buyers understand what can be done with them. However, once you know the presses that work best for the type of jobs you need to produce, you can find printers who have them, and buyers who have worked with them, and create a unique education resource for yourself.
Since this post is about sharing information, I’d like to pass this nugget along… never stop learning! The print and marketing industry is evolving and morphing into one big integrated communications channel, and print buyers have an opportunity to remain relevant by being relevant. The more you know, the more you can bring to the table, the more valuable you will become to your company, and most important the more you will be able to share what you have learned with those who ask for help!