The New Role of the Magazine Printer
It’s ironic that when selecting a printer today, printing may be one of the least important criterion. More and more, publishers are choosing printers based on their distribution capabilities, management tools and proactive customer service reps.
“The trend overall seems to be that print vendors are providing additional services …,” says John Sartoris, group production director at VNU Business Publications. “Whether it’s workflow solutions or specific project solutions, print vendors are relied upon as partners to provide resources and even marketing solutions that may cover print, direct marketing, e-media and logistics.”
Examples of printers helping publishers in areas other than printing have always happened, but were usually the exception rather than the rule. Nowadays, helping publishers in non-printing areas is as much a matter of self-survival as it is a means of supporting customers.
With profit margins continually shrinking, printers are looking for new ways to generate income. It is a natural progression that new growth opportunities come from related businesses. To publication printers, this includes everything from publishing services, workflow management, advertising sales support, electronic media, targeted marketing and specialized distribution services.
“We wouldn’t be in business if it were not for the strategic support printers provide,” says John J. Sateja, senior vice president for information products at Consumer Reports.
Hiring a printer is more complicated than ever simply because printing is only one of many critical factors in the selection process. Generally speaking, print quality is almost a given, as digital prepress delivers higher quality than what production managers had to fight for in the film environment.
Stephen F. Grogin, president of Brunswick Graphics Associates, says, “Printing is becoming a commodity. The actual delivery of materials to the customers is the key [to] a good printer and publisher relationship.”
Today’s print buyer has become more of a band leader guiding the other players through the process of determining the best candidate. These “other players” are circulation, distribution, marketing, premedia and even advertising sales managers. Printers are now offering services that directly affect these departments, and these players are now important to the selection process.