Several recent posts and comments here at Print CEO have discussed various aspects of the "future of print."  Because printed documents are used in many ways for many purposes, print does not have "a" future, but rather several "futures."  One of those "futures" centers around the role that printed materials will play in the future practice of marketing.  While we cannot predict accurately what the future role of print in marketing will be, we already know how that role will be determined.

Customers, both people and companies, "hire" products and services to do specific "jobs."  In this respect, marketing decision-makers are no different from other customers.  Marketers have several jobs to get done.  For example, they need to build the brand, generate leads, acquire new customers, and retain existing customers.  When a marketer is faced with one of these jobs, he or she will typically "hire" a marketing service, campaign, or program to get the job done.

Today, marketers have access to more marketing channels and more marketing tools than ever before, and the number continues to grow.  For any given marketing job, there are likely to be at least two or three viable channel/technique alternatives.  Savvy marketers are now making channel choices based on performance.  When, how much, and how often any marketing channel or technique gets used will depend on how well it performs relative to its cost, and relative to the benefits and costs of the available alternatives.  In other words, for marketers, channel choices come down to what will work best at the best cost for each specific marketing job.

What does this mean for print and printers?  First, it means that print-centric campaigns or programs will be the right choice for some marketing jobs and the wrong choice for others.  Print advocates will need to be prepared to demonstrate why a print-centric solution is the best choice for the job at hand.  This also points to the advantage of being a marketing services firm that can provide more that print-focused programs.  If you can provide a broader range of services, you can win a client's business even when the right choice for a campaign or program is something other than print.