Printers are being forced to provide more high-end design and original content creation work. Online services such as Odesk.com, Elance.com, and Guru.com make it easy to find people with graphic design, writing, and marketing skills. Affinity Express will do design and typesetting and provide the printer with a print-ready file. The outside resource will also provide the printer with finished files that can be reused and edited. Since the message usually will appear in print, on the Web, and on other vehicles, printers will write and manage the content for all the venues.
Personalization (VDP): Printers are just starting to use the variable data printing capabilities of their digital printers because customers now understand the value and the process. The latest generation of customers can provide databases for the personalization. Online service companies such as Digital Formatting Services offer variable data printing and mailing support, and local mailing companies are expanding their services to include backroom data support for mail and VDP projects. These companies will process the data and provide the printer with a print-ready file for output. Personalization tends to deliver a higher return on investment.
Design for Tablet and Smartphone: All you have to do is to look at the new features in Adobe’s Creative Cloud package to realize that design and layout of information for tablets and smartphones will be part of your prepress functions. Just as there has been a migration of some print to the Web, there is a new trend of moving more information to tablets and smartphones. As with the Web, the information on tablets will be supported by print collateral, so the need for material to be repurposed for tablets and smartphones means more work for prepress. The new Creative Cloud includes applications that make moving designs from paper to the Web much easier.
Social Media Management: Printers are now managing the distribution of the customers’ messages through social media. With social media marketing tools from Hootsuite, Buffer, SproudSocial, TweetDeck, SpreadFast, and others, managing a social media campaign that integrates with the marketing efforts through print, direct mail, and online is easier than ever. Since the printer is creating much of the new content for the customer, it is logical that the printer should also be the one posting the information to social media platforms on a scheduled basis.
The mix of print, technology, the Web, social media, and mobile technology is creating a new communication model that will become the blueprint for the print shop of the future as printers help customers take their message beyond print on paper. The successful printer will provide the tools, staff, and expertise that can help customers disseminate their message on whatever new platform is required. The challenge for the printer will be having a knowledgeable staff that can show customers how to use the new tools and integrate their message into a single, cohesive campaign.