Print is still a viable product in the business community. Yes, businesses are relying more on the Internet to communicate with customers, but print still plays an important part. In fact, for businesses to be effective with their online message, they need to use print.
The integration of print and the Internet is providing opportunities for printers to get more printing. Just because someone posts something on the Internet doesn’t mean anyone is going to see it. With the millions of Web pages and posts on social media, a business can get lost in the clutter. Printing can help businesses target their message and drive eyes to a specific site.
The way people communicate has changed quickly. Facebook is seven years old. Twitter turned five in March, LinkedIn turned seven in May, and YouTube is six years old. Hundreds of millions of people use these services, including businesspeople. Business use has grown to where having a social media presence is almost a necessary as having a website.
Rescue Your Customers
Printers should be riding the growth of Internet communication. In almost every instance, the Web services generate additional printing. Printers just need to ask for it. Printers should be reviewing their customers’ websites and making sure the customers are branding their materials properly and have the necessary printed collateral material to support the site.
The need for branding across the Internet and print is having the biggest impact. The advantage for a printer is many companies, especially the smaller ones, did not consider branding when designing their websites, so the website looks completely different from the printed material. A printer has an opportunity to redesign the printed materials to match the look of the website to help the customer create a branded look. The business also needs its Web address, social media addresses, email address, and other Internet information added to all of its printed materials. This will help drive eyes to the various Web outlets.
In many cases the branding problems extend to the message. The Web-based message and the printed message often don’t agree. A printer can help correct this problem for the customer. Usually, all it takes is for the printer to point out the inconsistencies between the Web and print during a sales call to get the customer to reprint his material.
Business owners forget that when they have a call for action such as “contact us for more information” the customer expects printed materials to be sent. Printers should review the various offerings on a customer’s website and suggest the types of printed collateral that should support it.
The Hottest Thing in 2D
QR codes and Microsoft Tags are also driving printing. These two-dimensional bar codes can be scanned from a printed piece by a mobile smartphone and take a person directly to a website. This is especially good for customers who have videos online. You are probably already seeing QR codes and Microsoft Tags in magazines to link the printed word with video demonstrations. The possibilities are endless.
QR codes are becoming more popular in the U.S. CNN reported that a February survey of U.S. smartphone users by MGH, a Baltimore social-media marketing company, said 32% of respondents said they have scanned a QR code. Of those, 53% said they used the code to get a coupon or discount. And 72% said they were more likely to remember an advertisement with a QR code.
You may not have heard of Microsoft Tags. Tags are the software giant’s entry into linking print to the Web. Like QR codes, the Tags can be created free on Microsoft.com. The difference is that the Tags require a special smartphone Tag reader from Microsoft.
QR codes are currently the most popular way to link print and the Web, but Microsoft has made a big marketing push on Tags since the first of the year. USA Today now features Microsoft Tags in every issue. The February Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue featured Microsoft Tags throughout the magazine. By scanning the Tags with their smartphones, readers could instantly view photos and videos of eight models, then vote for their favorite to become an SI Swimsuit rookie in the 2012 issue. They could also watch behind-the-scenes video of all 17 models in the 2011 issue.
Printers will probably have to provide customers with both a QR code and an MS Tag. Industry insiders believe Microsoft has introduced the proprietary Tag as a revenue source for additional measurement services for marketing firms. The QR code is open source and is not easily tracked. The MS Tag is reported to have free, built-in metrics that enable you to measure the effectiveness of your offline materials so you can view where and when your Tags are being scanned.
The printing generated by most Web initiatives will replace the customers’ current materials with pieces that supply the correct Internet information. Print salespeople should be in talking to customers to find out if their existing printed materials are up to date. The second wave of opportunity will be printed material to support the new Web resources. Are customers driving eyes to their YouTube sites with QR codes and Tags? Is collateral in place to support the Internet sales efforts?
Some printers have complained that the Internet has eliminated print opportunities. In reality, the Internet has generated more print opportunities. Just like the myth of the paperless office, the death of print caused by the Internet has been greatly exaggerated.
Another Revenue Source
Books and publications may be moving to electronic form, but someone still needs to create and design them. Now that there are more communication channels than print, a printer will want to be able to reformat and repurpose printed material for other uses.
If you use InDesign 4 or higher, you can save files so they can be read by ebook readers. Adobe offers step-by-step instructions for setting up ebook documents and exporting the file into the open EPUB ebook format. This format can be read on desktop reading applications, smartphones, and dedicated reading devices. You can learn how to do the formatting by visiting www.adobe.com/products/indesign/epub/howto/.
Even the big printers know they have to deal with other communication channels by reformatting their work. Quad/Graphics announced it is getting into the Apple software business. With the Quad/Graphics Digital Edition platform magazines, catalogs and retail advertising can now be published for the Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. According to the company, the solution gives its clients the ability to distribute content by print and mail, digital edition, and branded Apple apps.
As the popularity of the Apple iPad and other tablet technology grows, customers need publications transferred to the new devices. Adobe and Quark aim to help printers make the transfer.
Quark has announced an iPad publishing service that enables QuarkXPress 8.5 and 9 users to publish QuarkXPress content to the iPad. Creating a Starter iPad App will require a one-time $495 charge per app. The conversion of the QuarkXPress layouts to iPad issue files costs $495 per issue. The customer will also pay a license fee that is charged for each issue published. The cost of the license fee starts at $349 for publishing a single issue, and decreases based on the number of issues purchased. Information is available at www.quark.com.
Adobe also has an iPad publishing service. Users can upload content to the online service and convert InDesign files into digital publications. Fees start at $699 a month. Information and additional pricing is available at www.adobe.com/products/digitalpublishingsuite/.
A less expensive solution and more practical information for quick printers using InDesign to create tablet publications is available at www.indesignsecrets.com. IT has a multi-part tutorial with step-by-step instructions for how to use InDesign to create iPad publications.
Quark has just released QuarkXpress 9 to give users the ability to publish directly to digital devices. The new version also adds new features for design automation. Users will be able to create content for ereaders, smartphones, and tablets without programming code. Visit www.quark.com for more information.
John Giles is the author of “12 Secrets for Digital Success” and “The DTP PriceList.” He is technology director and a consultant for CPrint International. He can be reached at 954-224-1942 or email@example.com. You can also find John at www.twitter.com/JohnG247 and on Linkedin. His blogs can be found at http://johngilesiii.blogspot.com/ and at www.myprintresource.com. To order John’s books, visit www.cprint.org.