Printers as Media Advisors
Like everyone else in this field, I’m wondering what the printing industry will look like in 10 years. Heck, I’m thinking it will be quite a bit different in 2015. I’m getting whiplash watching one new media tool after another change the face of doing business — and turning print on its inky head.
My first thought is always, “What does this mean for print?”
Several weeks ago, The Boston Globe reported that Apple’s value had shot past Microsoft’s. One statement in particular stopped me cold:
“The rapidly rising value attached to Apple by investors also heralds an important cultural shift: Consumer tastes have overtaken the needs of business as the leading force shaping technology.”
It’s something I’d sensed — and here it was in print! (For the record, I like my newspapers the analog way.) As consumers’ tastes for all-things-digital expand, print’s function shifts. We know print volumes are down, and they may be down to stay. That’s the glass-half-empty view.
Here’s a glass-half-full view. I see growth for printing companies that appreciate the power of multi-channel marketing and realize that customers, including consumers, have a wide range of preferences for getting information. These printing companies don’t simply appreciate the power of multi media; they, like me, get an actual buzz from the opportunities they create.
Some printing companies are already pulling ahead of the pack — you surely know some (or are one) yourself. They offer customers a broader range of services than just printing (not that there’s anything wrong with that). A few services come to mind, including data analytics, creative strategy, mobile apps, mail management, social media integration, pURLs, email campaigns, cross-media campaigns and intelligent bar codes. Even the websites of these printers look different. Start paying attention and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a cause for rejoicing.
They look more and more like media companies, not commercial printing companies. They’re incorporating blogs and videos in their sites, and they have links to their Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. Radical indeed!
Over the past several weeks I’ve had heart-to-heart conversations with industry friends about what this all means for printing. More than one of them has suggested that printers are on their way to becoming more valuable partners to their customers, in major ways.
One friend told me that he thinks an entirely new model is happening before our eyes. Printers on the edge of this communications evolution/revolution are on their way to becoming media companies.
And why not!? One of the challenges print/creative customers face right now is wrapping their arms around all of the new media they have at their disposal. Which would work best for their firms? How do they decide? And where do their print campaigns fit with these new media? Who can they turn to?
Ad agencies must be living with their own identity crisis (doesn’t the term “ad agency” sound totally dated?), so print isn’t the only industry with severe growing pains.
Is it that much of a stretch to picture tomorrow’s printing firms as media advisors who produce, manage and specialize in a range of media, including print?
If not you, then who?