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Thaddeus B. Kubis

Converging Technologies and Print

By Thaddeus B. Kubis

About Thaddeus B.

Thad has developed The Institute For Media Convergence (www.tifmc.org), into a leading Media Convergence research group and NAK Integrated Marketing Inc., (www.nakinc.com) an internationally known, integrated marketing resource utilizing emerging technologies linked to print.
 

Making It Happen

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The past five years have been a major pain in the butt. There is, of course, a better word to use, but we still have regulations that limit our full freedom of speech. Not a bad thing, just a thing.

I think we need to move the argument away from print dying and changing, and realize that communications as a whole has been under attack. The attack is not going to provide defeat of the medium, but we need to bring the full pressures of the industry to bear for self/internal and exterior change—profit-based change—and reduced cost-based change.

Allowing an “old” form of communication to be replaced—or perhaps, the better word is substituted—by a new, very similar form is the goal; not the destruction of any one media. This attack has come from the fifth column, the insiders of the industry who see a new vision. The difference is, this group did not use clandestine tactics as a traditional internal, fifth-column-driven effort would have. Instead, its members came right out front and said it: CHANGE, we will make it happen, we need to make it happen.

It was how they did it that perhaps confused many. I agree that there is a new view of the field of communications and that the visionaries out there decided that to affect change, they did not need to replace or splinter the current communications model...they needed to kill it. Based on the following comment, I don’t think you can kill anything that has worth, all you can do is splinter the field and hope for the best.

Recently, the technology columnist for the New York Times provided via his column an observation that hit home. And home could be in the United States or in Malaysia; in fact, it does not matter where in the world you are.

What David Pogue said was: “Things don’t replace things, they just splinter...TV was expected to kill radio, the introduction of the DVD was to kill the cineplex, instant coffee was to replace fresh-brewed, but none of these predictions proved to be true. In the end, they did not replace anything, but just added on to the current and proven mix.”

Does this sound like making it happen or hoping for the best?

But hoping for the best has never been a fine business proposition. The very term sounds like those on the Titanic hoping for the best—that the flares used would be seen, that there were enough life rafts, that the ship was not really sinking, that the water temperature was a very warm 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and that the cocktail bar would be moved to the warm water to provide the best for those paying passengers.

No, hoping for the best is not the term to use in this depressing economic business climate. Making it happen is the term that needs to be focused upon. Making it happen perhaps has a different meaning depending which link in the chain of communications you occupy, or does it?

If you are the marketing end of the chain, then making it happens means focusing on ROI. If you sit in the creative chair, then you need to understand the latest in emerging technologies, where the biz is going and, yes, focus those results on the—you can see it coming, shout it out—the ROI of the project.

Great design is wonderful; it is, in fact, a beautiful thing. There are industries that don’t care about the project unless the design is spectacular. But to be honest, in today’s world, making it happen with great design—even the best design—will not provide a smile on the face of any client if the results suck.

“Hey, Bob, you and your agency did an incredible job, winning eight awards, great public relations, what a beauuuuuuutiful and ecological sound effort, but the results, well they sucked. The CFO just told me to screw the great design, get great results—ROI—get it? Bye Bob. Great stuff, perhaps in an age long past.”

If you are a printer or a marketing services provider, it’s great to offer your stuff—your sheetfed, web or digital stuff. But in the end, what are you bringing to the table besides ink on paper (OK, toner on paper as well)?

I have heard this conversation a number of times: “Julie, we love you and your shop. Your people are the best printers we have ever used, eh, since the last guys. You really know your stuff, but to be honest, we need more then ink/toner on paper. We need increased ROI and a partner that can help us achieve that goal. Can you help with that Julie? Julie, are you still on the line?”

No, making it happen is the key, and the key to making it happen is ROI, your ROI and the ROI of the firm that hired you to fulfill there marketing adventure. Not that the formula to discover ROI is simple. ROI is a complex beast, sort  of  like the Yeti, we all want to believe it is real, people travel and search the world looking for signs and in the end all we get is a faked footprint, a sighting by a near blind yak herder or better still, I have proof but you can’t see it stuff.

No, making it happen in today’s world means looking for the solution, the chemical make up of the DNA of profit, by using your electron microscope to examine the composition of ROI. What makes a project profitable? How can I affect the formula? How can I increase the sales (not leads, but sales)? How can I gather proof of my success and be given credit for that increase in sales? Can I repeat the effort? Can I prove the experiment, and can I really solve the cold-fusion-like problem of communications? Can I say print AND or pROInt?

Better still, how can I increase my ROI?

Well these are difficult times, and as I mentioned, the past five years have not been the old cake walk (what ever that means) that we all figured they would be. Yes, there are firms making money, some even growing. Those that are, well they are “making it happen.”

But the next five years do not need to be the same tension-filled half of a decade. You can control—in part—the future; you can make it happen. How, by accepting change even when the current industry savants are saying hold the line.

I am not saying that you go out on a limb, take new heading and change course. What I am saying is that you need to look beyond the horizon and look to change; change that can help and assist you make it happen. Remember, everything changes. Think change.

You need to think convergence. Think of the way you receive, divest, ingest, inhale and exhale and react to media—ALL MEDIA. Print or not, think about it. How do you and your family buy? What research, if any, do you use? Where does that research come from? What do you do with it? How do you check and verify the data? What provides the trust? Have you been asked to participate in the process, or are you assumed to be part of their process when everything changing indicates it is YOUR process?

Media convergence is just that; it’s your process. You define the type of communication, the delivery vehicle by which you receive the communication, what the communication should say and contain, and, yes, the how, why and what of the offer you selected to fit your needs must be surveyed, tracked, analyzed, data based and built upon. Did I say the ROI needs to be tracked as well?

Media convergence—using a new, broad array of tools—provides that ability. Will it be you or one of your competitors that will make the change and embrace the latest idol of marketing, and be the one that is changing, making it happen and making money?

To fully understand the process, you need to understand the four critical “Cs” of media convergence, as outlined in my last blog.

The use of Computer power, mainly the Internet, is the first of the four segments—the first sector on the quad helix of the DNA of profit to understand. The Internet—or computing power—is not the speed at which you upload or download, or even offering a “cloud” customer interface or having a Website that is “e-commerce ready.” No, the first “C” is more then that; it is a look into to the looking glass, down the rabbit hole of the first step in the new age of media convergence. You not only need to understand what the Internet is, but how to truly use it. You need to add a capital letter “I” to prInt and realize that innovation and print—your media—go hand in hand.

What has stopped that from happening has been the ease at which money has been made and the habits we all formed based on that past history. It not only the computing power, no matter how you define it, but also the convergence of media—the linking, the integration, the mixing of media, that will provide the ROI for all and allow you to make it happen again and again.

You need to the four “Cs”—computing power, communication, content and consumer or customer. Those four “Cs” provide the big picture, the large view. They provide the profit we all need.

My formula is simple MC + 4 Cs = ROI.

Want to make it happen, e-mail me at thad@nakinc.com or call me at (917) 597-1891.

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Most Recent Comments:
Stan Konwiser - Posted on May 16, 2011
Sometimes it doesn't splinter. We all have to take a hard look at what we are producing, the actual deliverable, to make sure that it is a product that can be followed once it does 'splinter' as David Pogue said. Consider the silver-based film business, or the vinyl record business... there wasn't any splintering, just the rather quick disappearance of industry groups. Thaddeus B. Kubis' 4 C's will work for you if the deliverable you currently have a market for is splintered into something you can ride your business on into the next decade. If it is a dead technology, go look for something else to do. It will get tougher for some to make a living as we transform our economy from one based on adding value to consumables (paper; plastic) to an economy that creates value without using consumables (emails; digital downloads). That is why you have to focus on your actual deliverable and assess where the value is added. Ultimately it is the added value that your customers are buying.
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Archived Comments:
Stan Konwiser - Posted on May 16, 2011
Sometimes it doesn't splinter. We all have to take a hard look at what we are producing, the actual deliverable, to make sure that it is a product that can be followed once it does 'splinter' as David Pogue said. Consider the silver-based film business, or the vinyl record business... there wasn't any splintering, just the rather quick disappearance of industry groups. Thaddeus B. Kubis' 4 C's will work for you if the deliverable you currently have a market for is splintered into something you can ride your business on into the next decade. If it is a dead technology, go look for something else to do. It will get tougher for some to make a living as we transform our economy from one based on adding value to consumables (paper; plastic) to an economy that creates value without using consumables (emails; digital downloads). That is why you have to focus on your actual deliverable and assess where the value is added. Ultimately it is the added value that your customers are buying.