Welcome to my monthly blogging duel with TEAM UK’s Matthew Parker. If you have been following along you can skip right to the post… and if you are just joining us, here is some background…

Matthew 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. We used to 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 don’t know each other’s response until they are LIVE on our respective sites. 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!

If you support one side over the other let us know. I am proudly representing TEAM USA, and we share these posts with #UKvUSA on Twitter. LET THE DUEL COMMENCE!


#UKvUSA: Do Your Suppliers Suck?

Look, I get it. You have vendors you work with, you have established a system and a history with them, and there’s no need to rock the boat. Just one problem with that, it’s 2016 and as mentioned in this year’s CMYK Manifesto, complacency will no longer be tolerated. If you haven’t recently assessed your suppliers and the value they are bringing to your work, and to your career, it’s time. Here are a few things to consider…

Is The Grass Greener? The system, history and trust you have with your suppliers is the result of time, money and effort put into the relationship from both ends. Throwing that away to save a few dollars here and there isn’t it worth it. The goal is to find suppliers that can do what you are already doing, and offer additional services to enhance and add value to your materials.

Identifying Your Needs. This is a Catch 22 situation. How do you know if your needs are being optimized if you don’t know all of the available options out there? And who is supposed to tell you? Hint: if your suppliers don’t have that service or equipment, it’s not them. Print customers need to proactively seek out education on presses, paper and substrates directly from the manufacturers, and then seek out suppliers who can serve them best. If you decide the XYZ3000 is the perfect press for you, ask the manufacturer to direct you to printers with this equipment, then do your thing and choose who is optimal to work with.

Best In Show. When I started a Print Production job at a new ad agency I called in the established vendors to meet with me. Some took offense, as in how dare I, the new person, question what they do. Others saw a fantastic opportunity to reestablish why they were a partner, and as a chance to discuss services not being utilized since I opened the door for that conversation. Results from these meetings can be very beneficial in regard to consolidating your vendor pool, learning more about available print technology, and getting rid of the dead supplier weight. Start with anyone who says “that is not the way we do things around here.” If they aren’t helping you be a visionary, they aren’t helping you.

PUSH THE LIMITS! There are plenty of uber-cool suppliers to help you create and execute uber-cool projects when you have the right clients and the right budgets. But that doesn’t mean you can’t dream in between. Bid the funky finishing, try new papers, call in samples and set up creative presentations to share what you learn. Never stop trying to do better, and prove your value.

When all is said and done suppliers are either partners, or they are replaceable. If you keep them working for your business in a respectful manner, they will seek out ways to keep it, and help you create awesome print.

See Matthew’s response here:

See all the UKvUSA Duels

Next month’s topic: Is Triple Bidding a Waste of Time?

Print Buyers… join us on LinkedIn: Marketing and Advertising Print Production Managers and Print Buying ProsThis group is private and closed to all vendors and suppliers.

Everyone else, join us in Print Production Professionals and join in the conversations!

Deborah Corn_PrintMediaCentr_bioDeborah 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 the weekly industry #PrintChat on Twitter. She has more than 25 years experience working in advertising and marketing, and currently works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers and industry organizations helping them to achieve success with their cross media and social media marketing endeavors.

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