#1 Take-away from Graph Expo 2011: Call to all Printers "Migrate to Marketing Solutions!"

Gale Grimmenga - Principal/Creative Impulse - www.creativeimpulseinc.com


Today, I not only need to create my marketing strategies and design them into print and websites, but also three to seven other mediums. I used to hire programmers; now I'm needing to become one. Studies say a person can become proficient at only three to four software programs in a lifetime, let alone the programming languages that create them, aaarrggg! As a designer who works with marketing VPs and the data that market researchers produce, I heard more about marketing at Graph Expo than ever before, which shows how much things are changing and our roles are blending. We used to have very defined roles "you were a printer, I was a designer. We had a copywriter, that guy who sets type, a photographer, and don't forget the photo retoucher; she's a market analyst, that guy's a video producer, and they manufacture paper. Within those well-defined domains lived expertise, quality, craftsmanship, detail, satisfaction, and comfort. Now we are all everything. Since the computer, I not only create concepts and design, I typeset, use stock photos, or take my own (especially easy with a digital camera and low-res requirements for web applications), and I do my own photo retouching. (Talk about bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan!) I could have even bought one of those super-cool digital printers I saw working away on the floor of Graph Expo, and add printer to my resume. (My photo did get immortalized on the Fruit Goofies cereal box, xpedx's unique marketing concept to pull us to the booth and see the amazing EFI Rastek UV inkjet printer work its magic. What can I say? Maybe it was that pink boa prop which caught my eye.) Anyway, the point is we are all needing to be more than we have been before. But will expanding our skill sets deepen our ability to solve the very real problems we all face? Can we expand them enough to be good at it? Can we learn fast enough, before the next shift in technology? Can a printer change enough to provide marketing services? Whether you feel overwhelmed or inspired or both, there was plenty of software, consultants, and new technology at Graph Expo to help the transition: web-to-print software for estimating in real time and ordering deliverables via templates with a click of the mouse; consultants already experts in providing multimedia channeling of messages to consumers (or Leo Burnett and my DC client's word, "touche"); equipment that moves faster with greater quality in less space and with more sophisticated computer interfacing. (And today, you don't have to buy the software: just access the cloud. I have an FTP site for large files, but since it requires my client having an easily downloadable Fetch or equivalent, sometimes we "cloud" it. All you need is a browser.) It's like patting your head with one hand and doing the circles on your stomach with the other. It's using our right and left brains simultaneously. It's yelling at the drat equipment that's got a glitch and talking to our client with true understanding the next. It's being in linear programming land (with templated parameters someone else created, not me) and full tilt creative concepts that sell, and meet clients objectives the next. Wow!"  

Next time: more take-a-ways from GraphExpo 2011 and best next steps.