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Frank's "Promote Print" Mini-Rant

Published on October 30, 2015

The paper industry is about to launch a campaign to promote print. Frank goes off on a mini rant about previous attempts to promote print. It's Frank. It's a rant. You'll want to see this.




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By Pete Basiliere on Oct 30, 2015

To your point, in the same WTT issue as this story is a link to a Digital Nirvana story "32% of Retailers Acquire Mobile Numbers Via Print."

32% sounds encouraging - until you look at the graph and realize that five other technologies (web form, email, mobile direct, none (!), and POS) trump print and that social is already on a par with print.

Digital, context-aware communications will continue to grow in importance and volume, no matter who promotes print or how they promote it.


By Jim Hamilton on Oct 30, 2015

Frank, you make some great points. If anyone comes up with another campaign (or blog or webinar) that asserts that print is not dead I will personally come over and egg their house this Halloween. You are absolutely right that the intent has to be fun and engaging rather than preaching to the choir.

Luckily, there are some great examples of promoting print that don't use the woe-is-me print-is-not-dead theme. A few wonderful initiatives come to mind: Trish Witkowski's Fold of the Week, NewPage's This Is Ed series, and Mohawk's Maker Quarterly publication. Maybe you can think of some others.

The point is that these either have an application focus or are targeted at content creators (like the design community). There should be more of these kinds of initiatives.


By Patrick Henry on Oct 30, 2015

I believe that the promotion Frank refers to is the "How Life Unfolds" campaign from the Paper and Packaging Board (http://whattheythink.com/articles/74712-paper-industry-how-life-unfolds/).

Unlike The Print Council, this effort directly targets consumers and thus should avoid the preaching-to-the-choir faults that Frank mentions. It also has $20 million to disburse annually over seven years in check-off contributions from the paper industry. That may not be a staggering sum as media spends go, but it's no pocket change, either. If invested wisely, it ought to be enough to win some hearts and minds out there.

Far from being another "print isn't dead" diatribe, How Life Unfolds makes the affirmative argument that paper and print are in fact closely intertwined with people's lives. It's an important distinction, and I think that the Paper and Packaging Board gets the tone right. We'll see whether How Life Unfolds can follow through with the emotional connection it hopes to make. Personally, I'm rooting for it.


By Scott Stoddart on Oct 30, 2015

Being a car guy I love the analogy of concrete vs. asphalt. I could sell that one all day.

The key to setting the specification for anything in life is to choose the correct medium for the proper audience to promote the benefits to the end user.

On linked in and daytime television spots, run ads that send the message "I got the job because my resume was on Strathmore"

On you tube, the ads would focus on school-age situations "I got an A on my project because it was on Carolina"

Local advertising on Facebook could focus on small businesses "You kept my menu because it was on PolyArt"

Then highlight the advantages of the paper, professional, bright & sturdy, waterproof & durable, compared to just another email, plain white paper, flimsy board, and a destroyed take out menu. Paper will need to be printed therefore promoting print.

How the public responds to the piece will be captured, driving the need for more papers and print jobs.

Keep if fun and not desperate. You leave a magazine in the bathroom, but would you want to borrow a tablet that was just in there?


By Robert Lindgren on Oct 30, 2015


Since 2011, we at PIASC have built Choose Print, a comprehensive vehicle for showing both the power and the sustainability of print. Choose Print is supported and endorsed by PIA and all of the PIA Affiliates. It maintains a continuing direct mail campaign to ad agencies and graphic designers. It advertises in designer magazines such as GDUSA and exhibits at the HOW conference. Most importantly it maintains www.chooseprint.org a comprehensive resource to showcase the power of print. Check it out and let me know what you think.


By Harvey Hirsch on Oct 30, 2015

You are all re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic! Print will promote itself when it becomes more relevant. I just attended the Printing Industry Alliance’s Digital Printing Think Tank and being the only direct marketing person in attendance amongst manufacturer’s personnel and printers I can tell you that this industry will not help print in its current form. Another “Power of Print” campaign will be another money suck from creative people without any real understanding of how humans take in information. The very act of putting their name on the sheet does nothing to suspend their disinterest in most of the crap printed today. That’s why the national average of response has dropped to a dismally low 1/10 of 1%. In fact, SCI’s Kevin McVea was so pleased to announce an intricate personalized insert that had a premium attached (bait) achieved what he claimed was an astounding 2% response. Every attendee was swooning.

If 2% is the new standard, my future as a VDP Wizard is secured because what I know about personalized printing would scare you.

Stop telling marketers that print can be emotional and powerful and then failing to use it in your own campaign like the PIA did when Tim Freeman emailed the invite instead of sending a personalized mailing to me.

The biggest reason print is failing to attract advertisers is not cost, they lose just as much on ineffective email blasts that also serve to alienate the prospect, it’s the lack of excitement in the few nano-seconds that the prospect plays triage with your message.
If you don’t get them emotionally in a consistent, positive way, you should take your money and go to Vegas, because you will have better odds at recouping your losses.

As the reigning authority on personalized print communications, I can tell you that the minute your design team presents you with another rectangle to be mailed, they just made my technology even more powerful. I rest my case.

The biggest problem in marketing today, which on an average loses over $30 billion a month on ineffective or poorly developed messages, is the strategies they are committing money to that are rooted firmly in the 60’s mass communications theories of getting the message out to as many people for as little as possible. This fails to set up a dialog or even a connection in most cases. Yet this is still the 1st commandment of most agencies today.

I don’t need to flash my street cred to hold onto my title, because from what I experienced at this and many other industry events is that no matter how much training you put into a print shop they will never become marketing services providers, only printers that offer premiums as well as paper. OK?

It’s not like me to rant but I’m tired of waiting for the manufacturers to stop telling me how fast or how colorful their machines can print. I want them to tell me that they can print on substrates like 15pt metallic cover because when you can merge data to a 13x19 sheet your product mix goes up exponentially and you can charge $9 a sheet, if you want to be nice.

The responses I and my clients have been enjoying have actually allowed them to reduce their budgets and expand their businesses. More over, when you re-align your strategy to establishing a dialog with your prospect, then print will become the most important element of your multi-channel program. I guarantee it. Now Google me.


By Joe Webb on Nov 02, 2015

The Print Council also had a great plan to promote print: send out a bunch of old grey-haired bald guys to tell the young'uns how stupid digital media was. When that didn't work, the plan was to have the same guys use Just for Men and buy toupees.

I see this every day -- and in This Point Forward the younger Romano and I detail my experiences at the Triangle American Marketing Association (Raleigh) where we get 150-250 people for the monthly luncheons and NO PRINTERS GO to meet the marketing decision makers of numerous successful tech, agency, media, etc. companies and hear them talk about how they set their budgets, their objectives, and the way they evaluate ROI. In almost three years of attending meetings I have heard the word "print" uttered from the stage no more than three times.

Print has a great story to tell, but the one we still tell is the story told by the industry's old guard, who knew how to print, but never understood or could articulate why to print (with few exceptions).


By Harvey Hirsch on Nov 06, 2015

Joe, you sound defeated. Print is not dead, just the way they've been offering it! Check this out:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcGt-p528OY
or this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3SLOchT8io
Have fun


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