What do buyers want? Ask them

But some­times, we’re all guilty of assuming that just because we understand our busi­nesses so well, we know better than the people who really matter – customers.

Anyone can make this mistake. At ProPrint, we try to avoid this trap by regularly running reader surveys. These wide-ranging polls help us make sure we provide the kind of content that you want. Much of what you hold in your hands, from the content to the design, has been driven by reader feedback.

Before you assume this is some long-winded segue before I beg you to fill out another reader survey, never fear. We ran one only a few months ago (with, ahem, very positive feedback).

But if you do have any pressing thoughts or suggestions, we’re currently running a discussion among the members of our LinkedIn group to find out what readers want. Click here and join the discussion.

The real reason for my preamble has been to flag one of the features in this month’s issue. We spoke to six print buyers from six different market sectors to ask them that all-important question: what do they want from their print suppliers? Their feedback is compelling.

It made me think of an anecdote I recently heard from another print customer. Whenever he sends his employees out to ask for print quotes, they are instructed to ask for a discount, no matter what price is returned. The scary thing is that he said every printer immediately knocked down the price without negotiation.

As you might expect, price was also a recurring theme among the six print buyers in this edition of ProPrint. With this in mind, one thing grabbed me. These buyers are under intense pressure from management or from their own clients to make savings. That might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth reminding ourselves. The reason buyers put the squeeze on suppliers is because they themselves are pushed to cut costs.

There are different ways to respond to this price pressure from customers. One option is to drop your price without argument. But it seems to me that a smarter response would be to acknowledge a need to open the lines of communications. Get a better understanding of the pressures customers are facing.

So how to do that? Well, I’ve found that asking is a good place to start.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

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