#Think!Paper — Edition 1, Volume 2
”I believe Think!Paper’s stance of recognising the role of print in a digital age will help address this issue and fill an incredible void in knowledge in an ever-shifting communication environment.”
By Fraser Church
I applaud the initiative of Think!Paper. This addresses a number of issues that have become prevalent in recent years particularly in the communication industry.
Today’s marketers have been brought up on digital and social media as being the default form of customer communication, with the much-heralded cry of “digital first” becoming increasingly common. However, the question is whether they are listening to their customers, or whether they are getting carried away on the digital wave whilst at the same time being influenced by perceived efficiencies based more on cost than actual return on investment.
Brands are increasingly focussing on Customer Experience and optimising the customer journey; however, to do that properly, marketers need to recognise that a decision to make a purchase is as much emotional as rational these days. Brand trust, values and relationships are increasingly important in a world where there is a narrowing in product differentiation. As part of building that relationship, it is important for brands to understand which media to use when and for which messaging.
Print is perhaps the most trusted medium.
Remember the phrase “I would like to see that in writing”. So, when something needs consideration, or has to be seen as authoritative, print can be a great medium. Print Is also the only channel that can impact on one of our most important senses of touch. Indeed, in my later years at Paragon I spend considerable time persuading clients of the value of increasing the production values of their printed output, and thus cost, to help subliminally re-enforce brand values.
You could for example question whether a Tiffany shopping bag is perhaps an accessory as much as a means of getting goods home. At the same time, you have to be careful not to over play your hand; for example, charities would never use a coated stock, as this would seem to go against their environmental and cost saving credentials (even though recycled paper can cost more!).
But this does not mean everything should be printed.
Email is a great means to deliver offers, newsletters and access to the depth of content that the online environment can provide. Mobile, whilst being often seen as an invasive medium, is perhaps the best way to remind people of a medical or retail appointments, or increasingly keep them up-to-date in real time about their purchase deliveries; and with the advent of 5G networks they will increasingly deliver richer experiences. Apps are a great way for people to manage their life, for example online banking or travel. Whilst social media lets us reach audiences at pace, in an informal and engaging manner.
The issue is that whilst a digital revolution is undoubtedly taking place, interested parties have been perhaps a bit blinkered. The Print Industry has tended to take great pleasure at criticizing digital media whenever it can. On the other hand, the digital communication industry has just ignored print as irrelevant. It is not either or. It is not one or the other. The true power is recognising how brands can use all of the media to their best advantage, optimising customer journeys and building long-term relationships. I believe Think!Paper’s stance of recognising the role of print in a digital age will help address this issue and fill an incredible void in knowledge in an ever-shifting communication environment.
Finally, what about Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation is often misunderstood. It is not about making sure that all communication is sent via email or mobile; it is about using technology to make it more efficient for businesses to both operate and deliver more engaging experiences for the customer. It is an innovation enabler, allowing new business, operational and communication models.
However, this does not preclude print, and it should always be considered as a channel to be used to undertake specific roles. For example, whilst comparison websites may help you find the best mortgage, and banks want you to complete applications online, the issuing of printed legal document, welcome pack and annual statements can provide reassurance and feeling of security for customers.
Also, we should remember that not all consumers are digital natives and a considerable proportion of the population have grown up enjoying and trusting print as a media.
So, whilst Digital Transformation will be responsible for creating a number of digital only brands such as Uber, the majority of companies partaking in digital transformation will still find there is a role, and a productive one at that, for print in their business model.
About Fraser Church
Fraser Church is an independent communication consultant and also General Manager of CPX Group — a co-operative of nine of the world’s largest and most innovative print and digital communication companies.
Fraser, who has a degree in Economics, started his career in consumer marketing working for a number of the UK’s leading brands. He then transferred his allegiances to the agency world as a director of RMP a data driven one-to-one communication agency specialising in customer loyalty in the retail sector.
He cut his teeth in the new digital world by setting up a dot.com company in 1999, providing consumers with an online resource for ordering catalogues and brochures. Fraser subsequently moved on to create some of the world’s earliest and most successful variable digital print applications for DSI who eventually became part of the Paragon Group.
Fraser was most recently Head of Creative Development at Paragon, particularly enjoying spending time with clients evangelising about how print plays an important part in customer journeys in an ever-increasing digital world.
He currently became a member of our #Think!Team to support the #Think!Paper initiative and to enrich knowledge sharing.