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Cross-media Services : Tomorrow’s Tools Today

January 2010 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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NOT TO lean on your paranoia button, but it seems forces are aligning against you, the printer, conspiring to take away market share by taking your communications channel and making it obsolete. The time to mobilize, unfortunately, is now.

Don't get us one's getting panicky with the Chicken Little sky-is-falling, print-is-dying doomsday talk. However, when there's a revolution taking place, it is important to be leading the charge and not getting trampled by stampeding competitors.

What in the name of Mike does that have to do with printing? Here's the way this observer interprets the revolution: Moving into a marketing/technology space other than putting ink or toner on paper doesn't mean thou has forsaken printing, nor does thou need to. But you do need a little more mobility to the right and the left, and you need it ASAP.

This is where cross-media services come into play. Is it variable data digital printing, sprinkled with personalized URLs (PURLs), microsites, e-mail campaigns or video? Sure. It's integrated marketing solutions. And now it's falling into your lap, whether you like it or not.

Decide How Far to Leap

But ask yourself: Do you want to take variable data printing to the next level? And do you want to continue operating in this space? Well, then you really don't have any choice, because your customers are getting into the habit of seeking out solutions in an aggressive manner. What you need to do is take a look at what degree print players in your particular geographic/market segment are offering cross-media services, and decide to what degree you would like to become involved.

This isn't some thinly veiled attempt to make you reach for the corporate check book. Think about your magazine/publication printing buddies who picked up the trade papers and learned that heavyweight publishers Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc. teamed up to develop open standards for a new digital storefront and related technology that will allow consumers to access media content on portable digital devices. The long-term consequences of such a move may be extremely tangible in the consumer publication space, perhaps even game-changing.

The role of a printer is growing into strange, but necessary, worlds that, in the end, will help to reinforce the print aspect of the client's overall marketing campaign. And print does have a place...still, many companies are finding that place entails sharing the stage and letting different aspects of a marketing campaign complement and feed one another.


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