There are myths in any industry. There is always that collectively held belief that has no basis in fact but can cripple a business. One of the latest myths in the printing industry is that newsletter printing is dead because it has moved to the Web. Printers who think that is true are missing an opportunity for some profitable printing.
For years printers have helped customers create newsletters. With the introduction of computer-based desktop publishing, many organizations took the typesetting and design for the newsletter in-house, but continued to have the printer do the printing and mailing.
The Internet added a new wrinkle. An organization could typeset and design the newsletter, turn it into a PDF file, and send it as an email attachment or post it to their website. These organizations thought they would eliminate printing and mailing costs to save money. As companies started to move their newsletters online, printers assumed that the printed newsletter had gone the way of the buggy whip and stopped actively pursuing that type of work.
When newsletters moved to the Web, many organizations learned that the Internet isn't always the best way to get their message to their audience. It was a myth to think a single medium could reach everyone, so newsletters are going back to press. Organizations have learned that they have to use a number of vehicles to get their message out.
Debunk the Myth
Successful communicators use a combination of Web and print to deliver their message. Printers, as part of the communication process, need to be ready to deal with customers who think the Internet is the only way to reach their audience. A printer needs to communicate to the customer the reality of what will happen when they take a newsletter completely electronic.
The newsletter editor needs to know his audience. Is an electronic newsletter the best way to reach that audience? Not everyone uses the Web. People might have an Internet connection, but do they check their email on a regular basis? How old is the audience? If they are under the age of 30, they will probably be more Web savvy. A 40-plus audience may not spend time checking information on the Internet.
What guarantees are there that the electronic newsletter will be read? Electronic mail boxes are stuffed with junk mail and SPAM. Will the receiver take time to look for the newsletter among his email? Will he have time to read the newsletter when he checks his mail or will he just skip it or delete it? How are you going to let the reader know the newsletter is online?
Can the organization absorb the administrative costs of maintaining an electronic newsletter? Unlike mailing addresses, email addresses change constantly. Someone will have to be in charge of keeping the email addresses up to date. How is the organization going to keep in contact with the reader to make sure the newsletter is going to the correct address and not disappearing into cyberspace?
Most good communicators are using a combination of print and Web to reach their audience. A printed newsletter is still produced and mailed once a month or once a quarter. Printed newsletters can easily be set aside to be referenced over and over or read at the reader's convenience. It doesn't require the reader turn on the computer. The printed newsletter can also be converted into an electronic version that can be archived on the customer's website. Most readers toss away a newsletter once it is read, but they want to be able to access archived copies when necessary. Many printers provide the customer with a PDF of the newsletter along with the printed newsletter as an added value.
Printers who have lost newsletters to the Internet should visit their customers to see how using the Internet is working for them. Has the organization maintained its membership levels or grown since taking the newsletter electronic? If the organization uses the newsletter to raise money, has it reached its goals with an electronic newsletter? Are members happy with the electronic newsletter or would they prefer a printed alternative? Has the organization surveyed its audience with a printed letter to see which way the readers prefer to receive the newsletter?