Print firm owners and managers, including those at wide-format shops, stopped hating electronic media a decade or so ago. It was quite the confrontational fight for a while, you may recall—an us vs. them resistance when it came to the looming threat of the Internet—until the two sides realized they could coexist peacefully, work together, and play nicely. These days, printers simply want marketers to remember their beloved medium of ink/toner on paper/plastic/foam core, etc., keeping print in the integrated/interactive mix. In addition to postcards, offer letters, and direct mail software systems, InfoTrends research confirmed that organizations are employing a growing number of media channels in their marketing efforts: email, PURLs, mobile, social media, QR codes, and near-field communications (NFC) chips, for example. (See www.myprintresource.com/10618368 for WFI’s social media focus.) There are more sophisticated services, too, such as results tracking, data mining, and analytics.
“Even with the explosion of information and new communication channels in today’s fast-paced, digital environment, it is still possible and practical to reach each of your customers, and forge and develop lasting, personal business relationships with them, through relevant, multichannel communications,” emphasized Judy Berlin, worldwide marketing manager for XMPie, a Xerox company.
Montreal print firm Pazazz touts itself as “a one-stop-shop for cross-media, integrated marketing solutions,” offering services such as mobile website development and QR (quick response) codes and promoting itself via social media, including its now-famous “Printing’s Alive” viral videos on the YouTube Internet channel. A year ago, Pazazz added a 64-inch, eight-color, roll-to-roll Epson Stylus Pro GS6000 solvent printer to meet growing customer demand for large-format signage and banners.
Some two years removed from bankruptcy protection, CEO/founder Warren Werbitt believes it is more important than ever to market his 20-year-old firm and what it can do. “It’s important to do something on a regular basis,” he told Graphic Monthly Canada recently. “We do a cross mix of everything because you can’t do one without the other. It’s all about awareness, being top of mind and keeping our name out there.”
Some of Werbitt’s tactics are more subtle, even subliminal. A few years ago, for instance, Pazazz’s salesforce was armed with beautiful, self-produced prints and posters to hand out to customers and prospects. “We still have people calling and saying, ‘Yeah, I know you guys—you do great work. Your poster is on my wall,’” he said.
‘Spray and Pray’ No More
“There’s no doubt that reaching consumers in today’s Information Age requires new techniques—and a major shift from mass marketing to direct marketing has occurred,” XMPie’s Berlin recently told Germany’s Druckmagazin. “It used to be sufficient to advertise your business anywhere and everywhere, hoping that people would notice you and that your hard work would pay off. But actually, this ‘spray and pray’ method ... made us move away from personal interactions and is no longer effective, as people are starting to expect one-to-one communications again. Why? They are simply bombarded by information, so they tune out the messages that are not relevant to them and their specific interests. Taking into account not only what consumers want, but also providing it at the precise moment when they want it, can lead to greater brand awareness and sales.”
Granted, variable data printing (VDP) is nothing new, but it has come a long way in the past 10 years. In 2010, for example, Agfa Graphics added VDP capabilities to its high-speed, flatbed :M-Press Tiger inkjet press with the :Apogee Vibe graphic editor. Using a VDP solution from a leading software provider such as XMPie allows wide-format print service providers (PSPs) to work with familiar design tools and file formats, and utilize simple data files, to incorporate customer demographic, geographic, and psychographic information such as occupations, ages, gender, interests, hobbies, and spending habits. And now, an increasing number of PSPs are extending their VDP personalization knowledge and capabilities to other channels, such as websites, email, and mobile messaging.