The Benefits of Interaction
Print was once considered a stagnant media, a media with which — outside of turning the pages of a newspaper/magazine or opening a direct mailing—interaction was a foreign concept. Printers (yes, you) were considered stale, stoic, and dated. (For many print buyers, marketers, and creative types, you still are.) In my opinion, both concepts are no longer true.
The question I ask is what have you done to counter this misleading and incorrect impression? After you have proved your relevancy (see previous installments one and two), you need to consistently reinforce your relevancy, the relevancy of your product/service mix, and the relevancy of printing as an industry. How? Offering interactive tools, products, and services is critical. So is understanding how your target markets will need and use what you are offering to fulfill their communication priorities.
If you have attended the drupa international media conference, you may have been overwhelmed by the number of print-related interactive tools introduced across the mass of exhibitors. This is a good sign!
The Industry — passiveactive
Fast forward (an interactive action) and look around today, and you will encounter multiple tools, methods, concepts, and applications that make printing nearly as interactive as most direct-to-digital media. Yet a recent informal survey I conducted, via a series of postings, revealed that only a small percentage of those who responded to my question about increasing relevancy had a clue to the true scope of print-related interactive tools available to the print provider.
If any single segment of the printing industry seems ready to benefit greatly from interactivity, it is the packaging segment. Worldwide packaging is expected to be worth more the US$500 billion by 2020, a short four years away. From the brands' point of view, packaging may be a final effective way to pull a consumer into buying a product. How? By being non-intrusive and interactive.
Tony Calo, a "print protagonist" blogger, has laid out a broad array of suggested "interactive" topics, which include some of my favorites — touch, smell, the rest of the five senses, and the concept of haptic marketing. Cindy Walas provided me with a link to a great blog she writes and targets to printers. Cindy also provides a link to Margie Dana’s blog "A Fresh Look at Augmented Reality."
Helen Kimeria also sent me a link to YouTube posting from Lego (click here to open the YouTube video or on the video below) that you might want to check out:
All of these resources are very valuable and useful, but there are more, less complex tools easier to offer and introduce. They include, but are not limited to:
Once considered the future of interaction, these somewhat ugly tools have, in my opinion, reached their high-water mark (http://blog.sva.edu/2011/12/george-tscherny-unites-sva-flower-and-qr-code-for-new-subway-poster/) and are well on the way down and are viewed by many as being old fashioned.
Image Recognition (IR)
Quad/Graphics, a big gorilla in the print room, offers multiple options utilizing IR, broadly defined as a tool that allows images, faces, and graphics to be linked to a digital action via identifying the source or by linking the source to an actionable link. Quad/Graphics and others offer all sorts of options, and so can you.
Firms such as Digimarc, Layar, and Tineye offer easy-to-use, simple-to-install, and very effective tools in tracking an action via a digital online pathway. In some cases, these tools and applications can take a flyer, ad, or direct-mail piece and have the images link to a video that jumps off the page in a 3D-like fashion.
Near Field Communications (NFC)
Near Field Communications (NFC), introduced as an option to some customers to act as the replacement for RFID, has yet to fully catch on. Apple limits NFC but seems to be reconsidering that decision.
The oldest technology in the world of interactive technology, Radio Frequency Identification, has not made its way in the world of the consumer but is used by firms such as Wal-Mart to speed inventory replacement.
One of the most interesting concepts to me is haptic marketing. (Haptic is defined as of or relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception — unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself.
These offerings were recently made re-popularized by Sappi. I believe I was one of the first to link the term haptic to print via an online newsletter more than 10 years ago. This, to me, is the home run of technology. Why? Look to Sappi and its whitepaper and brochure of the neuroscience of touch. Daniel Dejan of Sappi Fine Paper suggested that I look at www.blue-soho.com. I did, and it is worth the visit.
Yes, we live in a visual world, but sound is not far behind. Tools, such as embedding sound files in PDFs or using links to play a song or a theme or to shout a message are all next-in-line to help make print more interactive.
Live, prerecorded video can be linked to print via any one of the above options. Video, like mobile, is undergoing change but still provides viable options.
I am not endorsing or recommending any particular vendor, just providing some basic information you should carry out in researching to find your partners prior to offering their products and services.
Need to learn more about interactivity, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the word “interactive” in the subject line, and I will send you an overview on where and how to use interactivity to increase your sales performance.
Why Be Interactive?
You are involved in the sales and buying process yourself. In many ways, you are a consumer. You are also a business purchasing agent, selling your products or offering your services perhaps to both consumers and businesses.
How much does interaction and interactivity play in your decision to search, view, or purchase, and how much of that interaction is online, offline, and based on print?
Interaction also benefits your sales process. It provides your sales team with multiple, interactive, measureable tools to offer, sell, and use to gain new business and expand existing business. Interaction also enhances key elements in the sales process — ways to start a dialogue and develop an engagement that will, in the end, benefit you and your bottom line.
You have now been exposed to the first two of The IX Mutant Print for Profit Muses. I say mutant print for a specific reason. Mutations are what force changes in biological species needed to adapt or die. Similarly, mutations encourage industries to alter their ways or face the same adapt or die alternatives. Print has adapted, and you should have adapted too. If you have not, then your only option is to ride off into the profitless and very irrelevant, non-interactive sunset.
The next installment:
The benefits of Integration
Thad Kubis is an unconventional storyteller, offering a confused marketplace a series of proven, valid, integrated marketing/communication solutions. He designs B2B or B2C experiential stories founded on Omni-Channel applications, featuring demographic/target audience relevance, integration, interaction, and performance analytics and program metrics.