Good news and bad news. First the good news: digital color print volumes continue to grow at double digit rates. Bad News: fewer printers are getting more of the share.
I guess this wouldn’t necessarily be bad news if you are one of the aforementioned “fewer printers”, but even if you are, we are all facing margin pressure as digital print capacity continues to expand faster than demand. Thank you, inkjet.
Successful strategies to drive up volume in the past year have been to increase product offerings (anything but direct mail), cross channel communication (leveraging email, social, and mobile campaigns to drive print), and strategic partnerships with competitors (if you can beat ‘em, partner with them).
How Social is Your Media?
I want to spend a moment exploring cross channel communication, specifically leveraging social media as a tactic to help drive more digital print. There is no doubt that social media is more misunderstood than other forms of marketing. This is due primarily to its novelty, its perceived low cost of entry, and high profile marketing flops (Burger King, NRA, NBC, etc).
My take on social media is that it is the noisy, endlessly self-promoting, albeit the more glamorous relative we all have in our families. How do you deal with such a situation? Well, at a family party you may find yourself avoiding conversation, and most certainly discounting the importance of their endless chatter. In the end, depending on how closely you’re related, you might un-friend them altogether.
Now I am not saying social media spending is going to be uninvited from the marketing department’s party any time soon, but that it will eventually be seen as a generally accepted business function rather than a marketing tool, where print and email reign supreme. It will also decrease its role in acquisition marketing and increase its role in customer support and data mining.
Although fraught with pitfalls, the social media platform is arguably the fastest growing way to get your thoughts into the public domain...ever. There is an obvious need for speed in marketing, and that is where I suggest you start mining for social + print opportunities. Membership drives, conference campaigns, alumni solicitations are all great places where you can combine print and social media to more effectively drive the campaign, differentiate yourself, and expand margins.
Graph Expo is fast approaching. I am very excited to see the changes in the 2012 show, and look forward to talking with the people making the changes. I also hope to get a chance to connect with the Quick Printing and MyPrintResource.com readership and get feedback on how to increase the impact of the “Keeping Print Relevant” column for 2013. As a step to increasing impact, I am thinking of changing the title to “Mobile! Socialize! Personalize!”, featuring a live case study every month on how I connected these disparate technologies to print.
Last year’s early September timeframe of Graph Expo brought the country together in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I was impressed by the companies who made it a point not to forget the treacherous acts committed on our soil by commemorating it with art produced on the show floor. I hope it will be equally impressive this year. We all continue to share a terrible loss of innocence from that day onwards and “not forgetting” serves as a tribute to the price paid by the innocent victims.
Sudhir Ravi is a serial entrepreneur who runs a variable data print practice within TVP Graphics at Streamwood, IL. Do you want to continue the conversation? Contact him at email@example.com or 312-772-3191. Conect via Twitter @ThinkVariable. Learn more at www.myprintresource.com/10718828.