Why print buyers who stick to cost-cutting are failing to do their job

Wouldn’t a garden look bare without anything in the flowerbeds?

My wife is a keen gardener. One of her most regular jobs is the weeding. It’s an important part of keeping the garden looking good.

But what would happen if my wife did nothing but weeding? What would happen if she never spent any time growing flowers? We wouldn’t have much of a garden.

Print buyers spend all their time cost cutting can end up with the same results as gardeners who spend all their time weeding. They may fail to create any growth.

Print buyers should focus on growing return on investment


Print buyers should help companies grow profits, not just reduce costs

A good buyer should constantly be looking at how to make the products they buy more effective. They should be trying to increase profits or revenue streams for their clients.

Buyers who focus on ROI will be seen as valued partners by their clients. They will help control their clients’ budgets. They will also probably achieve more personal satisfaction from their jobs.

Buyers who focused purely on cost-cutting may not achieve the same levels of personal satisfaction. Their clients are more likely to see them as and administrative function. They won’t have the same level of relationship.

Here are three ideas to help improve ROI for your clients.


There are plenty of studies that show personalisation increases return on investment. This doesn’t just apply to direct mail: it applies to magazines and other products as well.

Personalisation options are increasing. There is now an abundance of ways to personalise through images. Personalised URLs are also very effective at tracking response and gathering customer data.

Print buyers should make sure that they are aware of all the options. They should also make their clients aware of the possibilities. However, it is possible to go so much further these days. That’s where intelligent print recognition comes in.

Intelligent print recognition

Intelligent print recognition is now offered by a number of providers such as Documobi. The user downloads an app and scans the printed item. In return, they will receive a promotional incentive.

This is a highly effective way to manage customer interaction. It is extremely measurable. More importantly, the response to the customer can be varied according to location or time.

This is a good opportunity for print buyers to really assist a company with its data collection. But that doesn’t mean that we should forget some of the more traditional ways of improving ROI.


Sometimes we should remember to use traditional ways of improving print. Using a finer screen reading or stochastic screening can make a huge difference to some pieces of high-end print.

I was a judge in the Printweek awards recently and was really impressed at the difference that the right screening could make to a piece.

Buyers definitely need to consider how they can improve the look as well as the functionality of the items that they purchase.

Here’s an example of how changing print specification created extra value for a client

I was involved in specifying some vouchers for a major newspaper. A simple change to the type of barcode used improved data collection hugely.

No extra print cost was involved. However, the client was able to review individual customer activity. This allowed them to market further based on that information.

Some buyers feel that they cannot contribute to projects in this way.

Surely most companies are only interested in cost-cutting?

Often, the print industry has made the assumption that cost-cutting is uppermost in customers’ minds. However, in many cases this is because printing companies and print buyers have failed to outline the potential to increase revenue and profits to their clients.

It is vital that everyone in the industry does their bit to show how print can add value to companies’ budgets.

Here are three action points to help you improve the value of a printed item

  1. Find out what your client wants to achieve with the item you’re purchasing
  2. Talk to your suppliers and review ways in which you could add value to this strategy
  3. Arrange a meeting with the budget holder to present alternative options for the specification

Rather than destroying the weeds of extra cost, you may soon find that you are able to grow the seeds of new profits.
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