#ThinkPaper Conversation: Print creates an unspoken trust!

ThinkPaper Peter Gunning Interview.001

#Think!Paper — Edition 3, Vol. 5

Interview by Andreas Weber, Head of Value

Open minded, charming, visionary, professional: Peter Gunning is a best-in-class entrepreneur transforming print services into an outstanding marketing and communication solution business. It’s always amazing to watch was he is doing and telling us.

What is the beauty of print in the digital age?

Peter Gunning: We were told email would drop the COST of marketing to zero. But actually, what happened is it dropped TRUST to zero. Trust in digital communication is at all time low, what with fake news, phishing and scams.

Since print doesn’t cost zero, it creates an unspoken trust. It’s reassuring. We’ve tested marketing with lots of embellishment, and it gets a better response rate than simple flyers. Spot UV, hot foil, thick stocks. The fancier the piece, the more likely the recipient is to think “well they can’t afford to send this mailer to everyone, so maybe it’s worth a look”.

I also think the digital age has opened up more branding opportunities for businesses. Since the cost of producing large pieces has come down, it’s now possible to brand bigger surfaces, cost-effectively. As well as windows and walls, we’re now printing floors, ceilings and whole buildings. We even wrapped one of our queen’s castles!


Everything in the Mobile Age is so fast. Why is the adaption of digital printing technology innovations so slow?

Peter Gunning: It depends how you think about the question. If you’re only talking printer heads and dots per inch, then maybe it is slow, yes.

But if you think about it in terms of the whole client experience, I think it’s moving just as fast as the rest of the tech world.

Clients want to be able to do more things for themselves. As service providers, we’ve got to care about delivering an easy-to-use platform, which caters for that self-service. File checks, proofing, payment online. In fact, our Marqetspace.com online printer was recently the first in the world to offer “Buy now, pay later” with an instant credit check in the shopping cart, powered by Klarna. So, innovation is still happening fast, if you look in the right places!


Nettl of Exeter, the  newest superstore. — Nettl is one of the most successful start-ups in the current print business worldwide. — Photo: nettle.com


What are the key drivers for a powerful & successful print service biz today and what will it be in the future?

Peter Gunning: One word. Diversification. Back in the day we were all about print. We had a network of hundreds of print shops in the UK, selling the usual stuff like flyers and business cards.

Gradually, over time, we found clients were going to a web designer instead of us. So, we knew we had to get into web. But that meant teaching all front-line team members how to pitch for complex projects. And that’s hard. 

It would be really easy to sell a client “a website like facebook” for €500. Actually delivering a project for that budget is a different thing entirely. Because before you can sell it, you’ve got to know how you’re going to make it. And how long that will take. And the time you take figuring that out, isn’t time you can bill the client. 

We thought there must be a better way. 5 years ago we started building our Nettl system. It allows printers to get started with web. It’s training, sales aids and a co-brand marketing toolkit to help win web work (and then keep the print!) What to pitch for and how to win. By following digital recipes created by our Nettl Geeks. 

The paradox is that now just about everything is achievable with software. The danger is how many rabbit holes you crawl down before you find the rabbit. 

People tell us that becoming a Nettl partner means they get more from their existing team. Maybe that’s why there are more than 200 co-brand Nettl locations round the world. 

Print will always be a part of our business. We just think we need to do other things first, in order to keep the print. That might be signs, websites or even search engine optimisation. I see that trend accelerating.


01-peter-gunning nettl

Peter Gunning is CEO of Grafenia plc, the people behind Nettl.com. Nettl is the largest network of web, print and design studios in the UK and has over 230 locations around the world. Nettl is available to printers and designers, as a co-brand programme. They keep their brand and become the exclusive Nettl partner in their neighbourhood. More at https://www.nettl.com/uk/nettl-partner/




#Think!Paper — the key facts at a glance

What we do

We evaluate and profile print and its proponents as an effective driving force for transformation – across all industries!

Our mission

We show, first and foremost, that print is by no means driftwood in an ocean of transformation (with Titanic-style effects) but rather a solid anchor for the ‘tsunamis in our heads’!


  • We are bringing together the brightest minds to form interdisciplinary #Think!Teams with a global outlook.
  • We are building up the finest pool of expertise with a clear focus on interaction, discourse, customer experience and sustainable conversations.
  • We are reinforcing the bedrock of any successful ‘digital’ transformation – proficient, dynamic and meaningful communication.

Benefits for our partners

We help our partners make new and market-relevant discoveries that inspire them and inject new energy into their development.


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