#Think!Paper Edition 3, Vol. 8
Interview by Andreas Weber, Head of Value
There are experiences that are unforgettable. Fraser Church lastingly impressed around 200 top experts who came to the 3rd DigitaldruckForum Congress in Gutenberg’s hometown Mainz, Germany, on November 11, 2004. He described as a profound marketing expert in the opening lecture “Creativity Creates Innovation” how to use print products individually, highly automated, targeted and highly effective. What he was talking about at that time is still valid today!“ — Benchmark!
What is the beauty of print in the digital age?
Fraser Church: The growth of the internet, digital and social media has changed our lives and how we act as people. Everyone expects instant access to information, and for many the technology has changed people’s behaviours as they want instant “likes” gratification. The speed at which information can be generated and delivered, means that some of the communication sent by both individuals and businesses is not always considered. It also generates content that is often ignored, or at best instantly deleted by the swipe of a finger or the click of a mouse. A phone’s secondary function is now a phone, with the usage enormously skewed towards messaging and listening/watching media.
For may they have lost the anticipation of receiving and opening a personal letter, or the more personal contact from a phone call, rather than an often-misunderstood electronic message.
Whilst many anticipated the demise of print, it is having a resurgence. Why? Well for starters, it is a tactile media that provides a sensory experience. The growth of eBooks has slowed, and by my reckoning based on watching others on my daily commute is declining as we see the resurgence of the printed book. Reading a physical book is a pleasurable experience, not only whilst commuting but also curled up on the sofa or in bed at bedtime. There is something good about folding over a page as you turn the bedside light off – the chapter for that day has finished.
Print also has longevity. Whether browsing for a fitted kitchen or catching up on the week with the Sunday papers, the medium is easily picked up, put down, revisited and shared. It is also a trusted medium – perhaps there is a belief that if someone has gone to the bother of printing something, then it must have been considered.
This is not print versus digital, but the right medium at the right time, with print definitely not dead in the digital age.
Everything in the mobile age is so fast. Why is the adoption of digital printing technology innovations so slow?
Fraser Church: In the lifespan of print, digital print is only in its infancy. It is only in recent years that we have seen the quality and speed of continuous inkjet be comparable to some of the more traditional off-set technologies.
Printing companies tend to be established businesses, with overheads, work-force and commitments to owners and shareholders. They have grown steadily with appropriate supporting infrastructures. They are not to be compared to digital start-ups who often are run out of serviced offices with minimal employees, and sometimes investment made on a speculative high risk/reward basis. Print Service Providers are real businesses with real people and established clients.
Investing in digital print technology therefore needs to be considered. The costs of investment are high (we are not talking about disposable desk-top printers), and any properly managed business would look for positive and sustainable ROI before making such investments. Therefore, until the commercials of speed, quality and cost stack-up, printers have rightly sometimes been shy of betting on the future. This is not about having the shiniest new toy, but all about providing a better product at a better cost for each customer.
With some of the recent advancements, I now believe the scales are increasingly tipping towards digital as it can deliver for not only shorter runs on specialist papers, but also long run across a wider range of stocks. Investing in this technology is now a much easier decision.
What are the key drivers for a powerful and successful print services business today and what will it be in the future?
Fraser Church: Understanding that print is not the only channel and that it can work well when working with other channels is vital. Each media has its own strength: Digital in instant news share, mobile for reminding, Apps for interactivity and print when you need something considered or need to promote trust and value.
Printers also need to understand data. Our industry is not now about producing multiple copies of the same item, but instead delivering unique, relevant experiences for every individual. With the advancement of technology, there is no reason that every catalogue a retailer sends out cannot be unique to the individual, with promoted items selected based on customer profile and shopping habits. But to do this print service providers need to understand how to work with their customers to use the data they hold to optimise the communication, with print often only being one part of an integrated communication plan.
It is also important to recognise that the modern marketer has been brought up in a digital world. Do not expect them to understand either print, or more importantly, what opportunities are possible with modern, dynamic and interactive digital print. People in our industry need to be evangelists.
Business who will succeeded are those that can take their customers on this journey and let them see the art of the possible. Print Service Providers, must now see themselves as Marketing Service Providers, often expanding their range of services to offer integrated campaigns. The future will be bright for those who do not just keep their heads down looking at ways to cut costs, but for those who recognise that we are in perhaps the most dynamic age of communication…and embrace it
Fraser Church is General Manager of CPX Group (www.cpx.group), a co-operative of eleven of the world’s largest and most innovative print and digital communication companies. He loves nothing better than evangelising about how print can deliver real value and return on investment for brands engaging with their customers.
What we do
We evaluate and profile print and its proponents as an effective driving force for transformation – across all industries!
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.
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