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Technology is Powerful Stuff: Grab On or Duck

“It's not worth it for us” was the comment during a CEO panel that Dr. Joe attended, and that comment was about print. It was hard to take, but he wasn't surprised. What did the comment really mean? Does it fit with the unfolding new media allocation and shake-up ? Then Dr. Joe reviews the explosion in smartphones in information search and sharing, and how it exploded in the start of the holiday shopping season. What does it this mean for print, printers, and consolidation? Dr. Joe pulls it all together.


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About Dr. Joe Webb

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.


By R. Clark Miller on Dec 19, 2016

Excellent article Joe. Printers possess an intangible asset that can provide a competitive advantage in entering and competing in today's digital marketing arena. That asset is the PSP's top account base. Digital Marketers struggle to sell SEO,SMS,Email,Content and Social Media Marketing Services to the exact same account base that many PSP's have serviced for decades. Which means that Digital Marketers have to spend considerable effort to build the same confidence and trust that already exists for most printers. It would be more efficient for printers to vertically integrate digital marketing services into their service mix and begin providing SMS, Email, Content and Social Media Services. This could be accomplished organically by educating existing staff or inorganically through acquisition of digital marketing agencies. Conversely, those printers seeking an exit might want to sell to a digital marketing agency. Many in the digital marketing space also broker simple print services as they see print as an entry to the client relationship. In such an instance the exiting printer should emphasize the account base value long term and the ability to print at cost as value drivers to the sale.


By Eddy Hagen on Jan 13, 2017

Digital indeed offers advantages, cycles are much shorter, you can be more agile, you can track the complete user journey. But it is not more difficult to get feedback from a printed ad campaign than from a digital campaign: just use the printed ad to drive people to a specific landing page on the website. Just as you would to with a digital ad.

And marketeers should do that (and printer should inform them about that). Recently I saw a number of studies that are not that positive about the effect of digital. So, yes you can easily measure it, but if it only makes a small difference, why shift your marketing money to digital? BTW: most studies about ROI only focus on the different digital channels, only very few also incorporate print.

Two important facts:
* 51% trusts printed ads as information source, only 16% trusts ads on websites
* less than 16% of social media users are influenced by ads and sponsored content.

I'm not saying that we should return to a world with only print. Multiple channels should be part of the marketing mix, for the specific scenarios where they are stronger than other channels. And print is a strong channel in a number of scenarios.

In case people wonder how to connect print to digital, here is a tutorial: http://www.insights4print.ceo/2017/01/connecting-print-ads-to-digital-piece-of-cake-a-step-by-step-tutorial/


By Joe Webb on Jan 13, 2017

Just from a behavioral economics standpoint, if all of these things were true from a communicators perspective, they would be obvious to others who would be duplicating their successes. Yet, print volume continues to decline. There continues to be a misinterpretation of preference versus action. Preference does not have any relationship to frequency, volume, or the nature of printed goods. Comparison to websites is no longer valid. Print usually requires a priori knowledge of a target or characteristics of likely targets. In the US, costs of distribution through the postal systems are a tremendous cost barrier, even for the cleanest and best targeted campaigns. Digital marketing and communications do not have such a burden. The lower costs and flexibility to target based on the most immediate behavior mean that digital marketers can have greater frequency for brand support and near-instant action by their targets. Also, re-marketing technologies have become a critical component of digital campaigns that print cannot mimic. Digital media is an absolute messy swamp, but that is because it is new and highly dynamic and very flexible. Any hint of "best practices" are obsolete within months. Most analytics are suspect. But we are at a point where we are past the newness of it all and there is enough history that there are general approaches in digital media that are considered necessary and worthwhile, with ROIs that are superior to the alternatives of the moment. These discussions are not easy, especially for those among us who love print and devoted our lives and our intellects to it. It was hard for us to grasp the concept of print being one medium among many, and how it needs to complement and drive recipient actions to other media. It's been hard for us to develop the analytics of print (which is funny because the concepts behind today's digital analytics have their roots in the direct mail and catalog marketing businesses). I wrote about some of this at the end of 2016 http://whattheythink.com/articles/83195-print-good-so-what-print-intimidating-matters/ Print is not in the vocabulary of communicators today. Much of that is our fault. But that's okay; since communicators don't know us we have a clean slate. But we'd better have something to say that is quite different that what we've been saying before. That clearly has not resonated. Yet I do know print businesses that are, as they say in the vernacular, "killing it." They have quite different approaches that focus on the objectives of the client, not their printing needs. As one printer put it yesterday in a conversation, to paraphrase "our job is to make clients money." That's a good start in understanding what needs to be done.



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