Editor's Note: Are You Relevant?

Are you relevant? It's a good question all visual communications companies need to ask themselves—especially now in an age where print is under huge pressures from all mediums from social media and online to radio, television, and electronic signage.

But what is relevance? According to the online Merriam Webster dictionary relevance is a noun and it is defined as "closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand" or alternatively "practical and especially social applicable". Other similar words include: appositeness, appropriateness, aptness, felicitousness, fitness, fittingness, rightness, seemliness, suitability, suitableness; importance, significance, and usefulness.

So now that we know the definition, I'll ask the question again. Are you relevant? Are the services and products you offer your customers relevant to their needs? If you answer no to this question, then you're probably struggling to remain in business right now. But even if you answered yes, are you 100 percent certain?

In talking with industry experts for this year's State of the Industry Report, this point of relevance really resonated with me. EFI's Ken Hanulec commented: "Printing companies recognize that they need to be part of a trend where their work continues to offer increased relevance. Just about every print product faces some sort of online or social media competition, and many print-based businesses have become experts at vertical integration to establish strong, multi-media offerings. Staying relevant is also about offering the right medium to get a message across. Printers know that standard billboards that were the mainstay of the industry don’t work in every situation as a marketing vehicle, so they continue to innovate and explore with new ideas for wraps, in-store displays and other types of installations. And that means really opening up the market for what printers can print on: we need to make digital print work with as many different media as possible."

FESPA's Neil Felton backed up this statement with some additional research findings. According to the FESPA Worldwide Survey 4, "Printers need to listen to their customers to deliver effective solutions to strengthen their offering. The WWS4 results show that 49 percent of respondents said their customers are looking for more integration with other media and 42 percent citing demand for cross media devices to connect print with online media. The printing community should regard this trend as a real opportunity," said Felton.

So, in light of these comments, are you relevant? Are you offering everything your customers need in this changing marketplace? It may be time for a quick self-examination to ensure you are as relevant (useful, suitable, important, significant) to your customers as you think you are.