Print, Digital and the Number 42...
If you are a fan of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (HGG) you may recall that 42 is the answer to “life, the universe, and everything!” So as 10/10 approaches—and 101010 represents 42 in binary code—I think of it as an annual numerological alignment between print and its digital significant other, and take it as a sign to post about this relationship. It’s also an opportunity to use as many Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy references I can fit!
So long, and thanks for all the Fish...Let’s start with: print isn’t going anywhere. What we print, and how much we print may fluctuate with the times, but printing has been around since Mesopotamia 3000 BC. In the mid-15th century the printing press came along and made things easier for everyone and has continued to evolve into and beyond the present day. That’s a pretty long run to be simply wiped off the earth with the advent and purchase of tablets, e-readers and smart phones.
Mostly Harmless... Having used my Point of View Gun, we hopefully agree that print is part of our lives and here to stay. I now turn your direction to technology...and the “D” word. For every road that closes in the universe, a hyperspace bypass opens. Sure, some things must be torn down to make way for the improvements, but it doesn’t change the base concept that things move from one place to another. We are in the information transfer business. You can take the slow lane, the fast lane or combine your effort to cover the most ground and still have time to stop at the Restaurant at the End of Universe for lunch. Whether you call it cross-channel, multi-channel, print media or cross-media, it’s time to stop thinking and start doing. Stick out your thumb and take the ride!
Knowing where your towel is...In HGG, somebody who can stay in control of virtually any situation is somebody who is said to know where his or her towel is. If we are masters of marketing that includes marketing our businesses and understanding the market to expand services to help our clients. Digital media provides so many opportunities that it surprises me how many printers have not reached for their towels. You already have my print work, why not expand and offer the digital services to complete my needs? Create apps, e-books and Facebook pages. Develop Digital Asset Management (DAM) and cloud-based services for your clients. You have prepress departments that are perfect places to create basic Websites for the non-advertising agency crowd. Become multi-channel resources in the multi-channel world, and keep in mind you are already behind even if you started today. Find your towel and a way to make it happen!
Don’t Panic...The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy teaches us that the most important lesson is "don’t panic." Digital media is enveloping so much of our world that it’s actually becoming easier to use. Two years ago you couldn’t have a Website without a programmer or some pretty good HTML skills, but now with WordPress you can have a site in 10 minutes that you can manage yourself for FREE. Yes it might be basic, but you’re present and searchable, and you can start sharing information through social channels and blogging if your company site doesn’t have that functionality. With the proper care and effort to create content you can join the Socialverse and establish yourself and/or your business on another level. And yes, you must join the Socialverse! If you are still asking why, good luck communicating with anyone under 30 in the next few years.
Total Perspective Vortex...In HGG, the Total Perspective Vortex is the most horrific torture device imaginable as it gives the one who enters a momentary glimpse of the infinite universe and how everything is connected and affected by every other piece. Eventually, it leads to a small microscopic dot that says, “You are here,” resulting in a sense of proportion. Having just exited the Vortex, I acknowledge my thoughts above may not be new ideas, but perhaps presented in this way we can all get from here to there calmly and with our towels. If not, we can always try engaging the Infinite Improbability Drive and taking a ride!