Where Does Print Fit?


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Where Does Print Fit?
Print in the Eye of the Buyer (Episode 2)

By Noel Ward, Editor@Large

My very millennial daughter’s first reaction to finding out about just about anything is to Google up information of dubious value on her iPhone or MacBook Air. But when she wants more detail or to just relax, nothing but a physical book or magazine does the job.

She’s not alone. Print, despite claims about its demise, remains a critically important medium and is surging back in importance, even among millennials like my daughter. “I like the feel of holding a book or magazine in my hands,” she has told me. “I like turning the pages. I remember what I read in a book better.”

I reflected on her comment as I read through the second Canon white paper that grew out of a new study conducted for Canon U.S.A. by NAPCO Research. Some 240 people interviewed were all in “print buying” roles in a mix of types and sizes of businesses. Nearly two thirds of respondents have six or more years’ experience in purchasing print or influencing its use as a media choice. The results of the study cover several topics spread across five white papers that I’ll be digging into over the next few months. This article covers the second paper. If you missed the first one about Identifying and Meeting Customer Needs you can download it here.

Although I was not involved in this study, as a veteran market researcher I am perennially interested in learning what people are thinking. I tend to ask a lot of questions and can get way down in the weeds. This paper, Identifying Print’s Roll in the New Communication Mix, hits on some key points and there’s much more than can be covered in this short summary. It really needs your attention and thinking as does what’s coming in the next four installments. To give you a glimpse, here are a couple of key points about print’s roll in these changing times.

Print Matters? Really?
First up is that print is just one part of a communications strategy that includes social media, video, email, websites, public relations, and more. The portability of the electronic options is important, but as my daughter noted, the permanence, stability, tactility, and reader retention of print sets it apart from every screen on the planet. The supposed “tactility” of some Apple and Android devices notwithstanding, swiping does not really equate to turning a page. This makes print, one of the earliest forms of mass communication, a valuable tool for reaching virtually all audiences, whether or not they have access to electronic media—and not all do. Moreover, digital print’s ability to produce affordable, short-run work lets businesses and consumers take advantage of print communications and leverage the strengths of both electronic and print communications to achieve compelling results. Many survey respondents consider print an essential component of many multichannel communication campaigns. They note that print is most commonly used in communications with existing customers and in onboarding new ones. Especially interesting was that respondents with greater experience are more likely to recommend print in multichannel communications than are those with less experience. Print matters!

Decisions, decisions
Fostering such thinking requires educating print buyers so they can make informed decisions about media selection—and consider print where it is appropriate. As a print provider you are a key influencer and educator, especially for less experienced print buyers, so you have to show print’s relevance. The survey shows that buyers cite online content, print salespeople, and print provider-sponsored customer events as their top educational and informational resources about printing trends and technologies. Each is a good venue for educating customers. To start, be sure your website includes educational content that describes such options as customization and personalization. Participate in or author published articles in magazines or on the web, and host online or in-person customer events. Offering customers and prospects training and education on technology, process improvements, print enhancements, and multichannel communications shows off your expertise, can help build stronger customer relationships, improve production efficiency, and enhance the role of print. These events and venues are important because many buyers still have no idea about all that can be done with modern print technology. It is up to you to show them the power of print in the modern media mix.

Because print is another way to reach your audience it can be a powerful element in marketing campaigns, onboarding, training and more. Its tangibility stands out from the messages found in emails and on websites, and when done correctly engages readers, who, like my daughter, value its look, feel and permanence. Nearly three in four print buyers want print sales reps to show them how to get the results they need from print, and to bring them new ideas for making print a vital part of their media mix. So what are you waiting for?

For more details on the importance of print, download Identifying Print’s Roll in the New Communication Mix today.


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