There’s an important point that needs to be made upfront, boldly and italically: Print and printers are two distinct things. We all love print. But we love printers and the people who work in print businesses more. It’s critical that the print businesses thrive so that the people who work in them do, too.
Print advocates love to point out the advantages of print over other media. Print doesn’t require batteries or power. It doesn’t require tech support. It’s easy to use. It doesn’t crash. It doesn’t steal your identity. It can be read anywhere....
Yes, yes, yes, all of these things are true but: They don’t matter.
It comes down to what the perceived advantages of a medium are. Look at how many people have ditched their landlines for cellphones. Can anyone argue that the call quality of a cellphone is anywhere close to that of a landline? If so, please tell me what carrier you use. Obviously other forces are at work to make people prefer cellphones to landlines. Portability. Texting ability. Internet connectivity. Smartphone apps. Social media. And so on.
For those who specialize in advertising and promotion, and for those who consume media, there are other concerns that are, likewise, of greater importance than the widely cited advantages of print. Electronic and social media are more timely. They are immediate. They are more convenient. They are less expensive to implement. They are more interactive. They more easily foster a sense of community. And most importantly, they can be more easily measured in real time. Failing programs can be tweaked or fine-tuned based on live data in minutes or hours at minimal cost. Winning programs can be evaluated and directed to the best opportunities.
Sorry, but it’s true: an increasing number of today’s—today’s—communications and advertising managers do not expect to use print. Why should they? It doesn’t serve their purpose. Again, it’s not that they hate print. It’s that they’ve found other media that are more effective for their particular objectives. Today’s marketing communication managers are highly skilled digital media experts, who are both creative and innovative, and who are fluent in the statistical nature of digital media analytics.
It is increasingly apparent to us that most printing organizations are not ready for a completely new marketplace where digital media, marketing automation, and analytics dominate. So the goal of these blog posts, and of our book This Point Forward, is to get them ready. What should the printing company of today and tomorrow look like? What should it offer, how should it strategize?
To have an effective strategic plan you need to have a blunt assessment of where you are and the environment you’re in. Romance has no place in this novel.