by Margie Dana
One of my favorite things to do in this business is listening to print customers talk about their work. Whether I'm asking the questions --or in this case, Frank Romano asks them-- their comments are enlightening.
Banks and investment firms spend $12.3 billion annually on printing.
I attended Frank's recent webinar on WhatTheyThink.com as he talked with three high-level buyers in financial services. (I wasn't alone. WTT reported that over 500 people registered for this session.)
Since I worked in a mutual fund company for 11 years as a print buyer, I was particularly keen on listening to this session. The three buyers (who remained anonymous) were from some of the country's largest financial services firms. According to Frank, print is still a major portion of the marketing efforts of U.S. financial services' institutions. Banks and investment firms spend $12.3 billion annually on printing.
It's difficult for a new printer to get into their organizations, although it helps if a printer can offer them something new or solve a problem.
That's a lot of beans to be counted.
- Do the comments of three seasoned professionals reflect the thoughts and actions of their peers coast to coast? Who can say? Nevertheless, based on my 20-plus years of either buying print or focusing on those who still do, I will say that their comments rang true. Here's a bit of what they said:
- Though they may be currently working with printers within 50 miles of their offices, they're about to move the work further away to be closer to their fulfillment centers.
- Freight cost is an issue. Lowering mailing costs is a hot topic. They're open to anything a service provider can do to decrease costs and timelines to help them get products to market faster.
- It's difficult for a new printer to get into their organizations, although it helps if a printer can offer them something new or solve a problem they're experiencing. "I like to see what's out there," as one buyer put it. Keep in mind that vendor contracts may already be in place.
- They are not buying printing from ecommerce sites.
- They (and other buyers in their departments) are responsible for all the printing in their firms. There can be one exception - procurement departments may buy stationery items.
- Creative services are part of their departments. The designers in their firms don't buy printing; one buyer said his designers "have no desire for the most part" to do so.
- They have in-plant digital printing capabilities, both B/W and color.
- They tend to be loyal to their printers.
- Of the three buyers, none works with print brokers on a regular basis, but they might work with brokers for specialty items or, as one buyer said, "when we have more moving parts than we have time to deal with" on a particular project.
- They buy more than financial printing. They mentioned posters, CDs and packaging, as well as a lot of commercial printing for marketing purposes. They have done interesting projects lately, including a lunch box, a job with complex folding, and a binder in a sleeve.
I'd guess that this 60-minute conversation was as interesting to buyers who listened in as it was to print providers. For all I know, their buying practices have parallels in lots of other industries. Future webinars will tell. By the way, these free webinars are archived on WhatTheyThink.com's web site.