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Dr. Joe: Printers should position themselves to offer new media services

Published on October 18, 2010

Cary Sherburne:  Hi, I’m Cary Sherburn, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com, and I’m here with Dr. Joe Webb, who is Director of our Economics and Research Center. 

And Dr. Joe, I know that you’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the future of the printing industry and how businesses should be managing themselves in these rapidly changing times and particularly as it relates to new media.  Marketing budgets are not growing. 

Dr. Joe Webb:  Right. 

Cary Sherburne:  But they’re split among more things.  So why, you know, what should printers be doing in terms of getting involved with integrative communications or should they even be thinking about that? 

Dr. Joe Webb:  Well remember, marketing budgets are changing, but inside the marketing budgets there’s less money being spend on advertisings space and they’re being reallocated to other things like search engine optimization, social media, and other things that don’t have the same kind of costs associated with that.  So even though their budgets may be flat, they’re spending on production may be much higher than it used to be because there’s a lot less being spent on trade events, like very big trade shows, they may be going to more regional shows, they may be running events on their own to try to change their costs.  There maybe different customer events within the companies.  And all those need some kind of support of print materials and signage and other things. 

Also, as company’s budgets have been spread over more media, the only way you can gain in any productivity in that is to keep repurposing and reusing all the different files that you gather.  Now many of those are going to be video, just like this.  And you’re going to want to –

Cary Sherburne: Yes, hard to print. 

Dr. Joe Webb:  You’re going to put that to other formats.  You’re going to grab particular shots and use them.  You’re going to put them on web sites and the like.  All of this requires a level of organization and discipline and a programmed and systematic way of doing these kinds of things.  Many businesses and advertising and marketing folks are able to do the first couple.  And then they realize they run out of time and they can’t get to one thing, but if they start outsourcing it to printing organizations will begin to redefine themselves, then that particular printing business who now has a different reason for existing because they’re working in many different kinds of media, they can provide a very, very real service in their organization and that organization can become even more dependent on them.  But it takes a lot of restaffing, reinvestment on the part of the printer in order to do that.

It’s a whole new way of looking at your business.  And making that transition can be very difficult, but we do have to remember that culturally, we’ve always liked to compare ourselves to other printers.  We’ve always looked for things like financial ratios and trade practice to see how we’re doing.  But in this social media world and all digital media, there are none of those things.  There are no rules.  And you’re basically creating your rules and crafting them client by client.  So we should not be afraid of that.  We shouldn’t even be uncomfortable about it.  But when we’re used to having a very rigid production process, it’s hard to come over that.  So we have to gradually get more and more practiced at being a lot more flexible and working with that in that way.  But these new media demand that. 

Cary Sherburne: And so when you talk about you need a different infrastructure and so on, so people should be really looking at their production platform, the software they have in place and the people – people processing technology. 

Dr. Joe Webb: Right.  There are many printers over the past year or so have been telling me, they never thought they’d hire a programmer before, but now they’ve hired four and five.  So it’s a much, much different business. 

Cary Sherburne: But it’s exciting. 

Dr. Joe Webb: It certain is. 

Cary Sherburne: Thank you. 

Dr. Joe Webb:  Thank you. 

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