In the Nov. 3 issue of PSDA eNews, we introduced “Thinking Like a Print Buyer,” featuring a conversation with Jeff Dickerson, print buyer at State Farm in Bloomington, Illinois. This blog post includes commentary from Tanna Griggs, print purchasing specialist at Women’s Missionary Union in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Women’s Mission Union (WMU) is a nonprofit organization that creates and distributes educational resources to churches. It also manages WorldCrafts, which imports and markets handmade items from artisans around the world.
As the print purchasing specialist, Griggs procures curriculum material for leadership training, magazines, books, catalogues, postcards, signage, promotional products and more. “I buy a lot of print all year long,” she says. As a result, she is called on frequently by sales reps who want her business.
“Make an appointment. Don’t just show up at the door,” she advises. The best approach is to send some collateral and then follow up with a meeting request.
Griggs, whose background is in graphic design and production, worked for an agency before joining WMU. “When I came from the agency, I brought several vendors with me, and I do use a lot of the same ones repeatedly,” she says. “But I’m open to other people. I’ll give them a bid, and if they do a good job I’ll stay with them.”
Griggs admits that price is the most important criteria when evaluating new vendors. “In the agency, you could shoot midline or work with someone you know to come down a bit,” she says. “Because [WMU] is a nonprofit, price is premier, but I want to see quality too. What kind of quality can you give me at a good price?”
The customer is also a high priority on Griggs' list. “Are you really there for me, or are you treating me like a vendor and not as a customer?” she says. As an example of above-and-beyond customer service, one of her vendors offered to help with file preparation even if they weren’t doing the job.
More important than anything, though, is getting the job right. One vendor Griggs worked messed up the same two times in a row. Now she can no longer use them even if she wanted to. “I really liked the salesperson, but I’d be crucified here if I went back to them,” she says.