Integrating New Technologies, Capabilities Brings Printers to the Marketing Table

It’s a question asked dozens of times a day by industry watchers and probably considered with outright fear by beleaguered printers: Is print dead?

And the short, emphatic answer? Not just no, but NO!

Printing still plays a significant role in U.S. and global economies. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry, and customers are finding that its effectiveness is still unmatched in many cases.

“Print is alive and well, but it’s different today,” said Jeffery Dickerson, print buyer at State Farm Insurance company. “With more information available on the Web, we’ve had to look at bridging the two worlds. Our agents are allocating resources to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but some customers prefer printed information. With insight into their preferences, we’re able to tailor our marketing material to meet our customers’ needs.”

Savvy marketers are using as many channels as possible to reach their target demographic and deliver timely, relevant communications to customers. Striking the right balance between print, digital and mobile communication can help organizations open new channels, reach new customers and boost the bottom line.

Online efforts have much of the limelight these days, but integrating print into the communication strategy can help marketers reach customers – often, ones who cannot be reached any other way.

More and more, marketers and print buyers are seeking outside help in integrating all of the components of their campaigns and printers who can now only offer a variety of printing capabilities, but also an understanding of marketing theory and practices are finding a plethora of new business.

Shops that have relied on traditional jobs and projects are now adding wide format and digital printing capabilities and are beginning to expand into other areas like inkjet as a result of the shift in what marketing execs and print buyers need and demand.

Working in Harmony

Digital communication may offer the benefit of being delivered “in the moment,” but printed pieces carry a credibility that is unmatched. A beautiful four-color printed piece is tangible, making it hard to be ignored and provides the ability to connect with customers emotionally, using words and images. The ability to hold a brochure, catalog, direct mail piece or other collateral is an important part of the consumer experience.

Making it meaningful and relevant requires understanding customer preferences and types of communication that resonate. Through customer relationship management (CRM) technologies, data mining and simply polling customers, many organizations now better understand their customers and how to communicate effectively with them.

“Printed pieces are evolving as more content is going digital, but now we can use data from CRM and DRM technologies to speak to individuals – not just segments, demographics or psychographics,” said Melissa Clemente, vice president and print production director, at Draftfcb Chicago. “Companies that are savvy about using those databases can deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. While there’s no argument that digital has changed the print landscape, the two mediums play well together, can inform each other and enable organizations to market effectively.”

More On-demand

One of the biggest changes to the print landscape is the move from static content production to on-demand print communication. Historically, print buyers purchased large quantities in long runs, based on projected need. But that’s changing as more print is managed on an as-needed, on-demand basis.

For example, training manuals at State Farm were once printed in bulk, collated and stored at a company facility where managers could order them as needed. But it was costly to maintain and information was quickly outdated, resulting in high amount of waste. Today, much of the information is now housed online or can be ordered and printed by regional offices as needed. Being able to produce smaller runs enables State Farm to still offer physical materials to its national network of agents, but at a more cost-effective price point.

At Draftfcb, it’s not just managing volume, but understanding the end-user and the types of materials that resonate best.

“Digital printing has come a long way,” Clemente added. “We are now in a place where every printed piece can be a one-off and directed to an individual with pertinent, timely information and relevant offers. Through new technologies, we can design template programs, whether it’s a catalog, direct mail piece or brochure where all of the four-color content, whether it’s an image, headline or copy can be customized and printed beautifully. The possibilities are endless and really exciting.

As a result, marketers are looking to printers that not only have VDP capabilities, but who also know how to best harness the power that VDP offers in order to achieve the results the campaigns require.

In Capturing the Campaign – Part 2, you’ll learn more about emerging print technologies that assist printers in getting their fair share of this exciting opportunity.