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#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

 


 

DDF Congress Mainz 2004Fraser Church was already 15 years ago a great supporter and contributor sharing his vision and misson. See as well our “Update: DigitaldruckForum | Digital Printing Forum”


About

Fraser Church


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.

Fraser is one of the founding members of the #Think!Paper initiave sharing his great insights and observations. 

 


 

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#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’!

Our USP

  • 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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Print ad out of a campaign by ‘internet.org by Facebook’, designed by Sid Lee, U.S.A.

 

#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

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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.

Contact via LinkedIn


 

 

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