Print is for Losers!*
Trending: A new concept to many—most social media sites—including LinkedIn and Facebook and others uses a variant of trending to define thought leadership. No matter how short or long your personal or business “upward trending curve” is, being on top of the pile is a powerful position to hold and when used correctly a powerful tool for your business.
Print has not been included within the trending universe for some time and I doubt that it will ever make its way back to any of the top trending lists in the future. Not because print is dead (for it is not), not because print is an old-fashioned technology (again it is not), but because print will not get back in vogue until the “identity” of print is changed and updated.
Print, according to the latest Flash Report from Ron Davis of the Printing Industries of America, is defined or combined into three segments based on the intended function of the printed piece—a very smart division of the industry.
Those three segments are: Inform or Communicate (essentially newspaper, magazines, book financial, business for and greeting cards), Product Logistics (includes package printing, converters/labels and wrappers) and Market, Promote and/or Sell (political needs, marketing/promotional including general commercial printing, quick printing, direct mail and signs/signage). Combine these three segments and they will provide the projected shipments of print in 2021.
Expected Print by Function 2021
Inform or Communicate 46.23 percent
Product Logistics 14.79 percent
Market, Promote, Sell 38.98 percent
Why is this important? Well if you ask a myriad of “trade” people, I think you will find that most cannot provide an accurate definition of print. This definition becomes more difficult to determine if you move to the creative, marketing and advertising segments. From my experience those who lump or silo print into “print media—advertising” don't seem to care if that definition is correct or not.
Can you fully use a media if you cannot define that media? I think not!
Print or print plus, as Ron Davis states, is undergoing massive change, but not all of that change is bad!
Do you know which of those three (print) segments are considered growth segments?
Do you know what the response rate is for a communications or marketing project, which include print versus those that do not include print?
Do you know which channels of print plus offer dialogue, engagement and that “special touch” to convert the prospect to a customer?
Most likely you do not or if you do that information has been provided to you via a print-centric source. Not that print centric sources are incorrect, most are highly professional and dedicated to the media of print and to its growth.
These print-centric groups provide a great foundation of information, but I am not sure if we as print providers or any marketer can accept industry-centric information without examining the bias of that information and looking to independent channels to verify the results. Second source or source verification works outside of journalism.
Digital Media is Well Defined
Ask what social media is, or even digital media and across the board you will get a fairly well-defined answer. Again, this is based on my unofficial survey and if I am wrong, please let me know.
Trending and how it relates to print or print plus is only one of the problems I see directly impacting print; the second is the lack of coordinated industry “buzz.” Sure there are some great print industry groups out there, like the PIA, NPES, IDEAlliance, RIT The Print Council (no longer active) and many industry vendors or suppliers providing some great “specific and self serving” (rightfully so) support of print.
What is needed is a neutral database driven clearing-house that presents print, not as a provider of a service, but as an integrator of the marketing process, which is based, not on theory but on raw hard facts. Facts that prove the ROI of print, and facts that offer a detailed review and defining of the benefits of print and accept the fact that the industry is changing. There also needs to be a plan to adapt to this change and offer defined benefits to counter the change and to play happy with the other forms of media.
I suggest that a JD Power’s type model be organized, reaching out to ALL MEDIA, inclusive of all media representation and yes include all aspects of digital media, and data-driven marketing as well. This neutral group will then provide the benchmark study that will start the process of identifying print as a valued, valid and needed part of the chain of communications.
Possibly for the first time in the history of print, print can have a single mantra, a brand that is based on fact, a brand that will benefit the industry and a brand that will start the incorporation of print into the new world on integrated and inter-digital media.
Print is more then just an integrator, it has proven to be a device that can establish dialogue, maintain the discussion and provide a path of measured engagement that will benefit all that use print.
When you link the three critical tenets that I feel are the motivators to consider for the future of print as Integration, Dialogue and Engagement, you have within print a formidable weapon, regardless of your equipment mix. Despite your sales organization, you are no longer selling a commodity your are selling a result, a proven and repeatable result!
In the next installment of this blog I will outline the three critical steps to end the shunning of print, clearly identify what print is and how print can provide a path to profit advocacy, a path that print can once more support.
* Not really but it did get your attention.