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.