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Commentary: How Print Can Connect to Customers in the Digital Age


By Francis McMahon Printing Impressions 

While we cling to our smartphone screens at seemingly all hours, we still receive a great deal of our information from print - brochures, promotional posters, direct mail, and product packaging are just a few examples. In fact, many readers prefer to read books in print opposed to electronic reading devices, according to a 2016 study by Pew Research Center. However, print professionals have recognized that there is an on-going tug of war for attention. To meet this challenge, the industry continues to adapt and integrate new features and technology in print to better connect with the customer.

In this piece, we take a look at a few steps that are being taken to engage audiences and raise awareness about the power of print.

Creative Control

The increasing popularity of inkjet printers represents a new generation that expects more from print than simple text on a white page. With the “digital noise” that clouds our everyday lives, businesses and individuals alike are being forced to find ways to let their voice be heard. This can be seen in creative new print applications, especially in the marketing field, which has forced print professionals out of their comfort zones. In 2018, it is anticipated that the graphics arts focus of print will continue to grow with technology companies continuing to provide new solutions for their customers to produce vibrant, attention grabbing displays.

To further grab attention, print providers also have the ability to integrate increasingly popular augmented reality features into their output. For example, say a customer wants to print posters for an upcoming concert. The printer can embed scan-able markers into the poster so that those viewing the poster can scan it with their phones, which can bring up more information or even a video previewing the concert.

Spread the Word

In recognition of these breakthroughs, print experts and industry leaders have taken it upon themselves to advocate for print and the benefits that it provides, as well as to raise awareness for the exciting new developments that the industry will see in the near future. As many customers may rely solely on business partners as a source of information, they may not be aware of the full breadth of possibilities that print provides. To better inform customers, many print professionals have launched initiatives and workgroups to promote the value of print, which will ideally share with brands and agencies the new opportunities and applications available through modern printing technology.

One example of such an initiative that Canon is involved with is Print Media Centr’s Project Peacock, which shares with brands and agencies the new opportunities and applications available through modern printing technology. Resources such as these provide designers and consumers alike with a window to see all that is possible in print.

Supply When In Demand

From the perspective of a customer, we hope and expect that our orders will have a fast turnaround and be fulfilled in a timely manner. Businesses are adapting print-on-demand (POD) business models to meet this demand and print as needed. If a customer orders a book, they’d like it as soon as possible and not have to wait until retailers are stocked with the next edition. POD allows publishing companies to print as needed, helping get the product in the customer’s hands without having to wait for the next edition or future shipments.

Consumer Connection

So what does this mean for the most important audience of all: the consumer? Print is inescapable: it’s a newspaper on your desk, artwork hung in the hallway or the roadside banner on your way to work. Print experts recognize that we live in a fast paced environment where there is a battle for our attention and therefore they must continue to reinvent themselves to help amplify the message of their customer. Furthermore, print experts know that they need to create printed items that are relevant to our daily lives and that integrate seamlessly into technologies we use every day, like mobile and Web enabled devices.

It is an ongoing battle for attention of the audience. With the advancements that have been made, the print industry will continue to adapt to trends and find new ways to captivate audiences into 2018 and beyond.

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