Companies are moving into the digital realm at high speed. That’s certainly true of my company, too. But printed material should continue to play a major role in your business model. Print is not dying or getting old – it’s getting new.
Here are five things you might not realize about printed materials:
1. Clients Demand It — We find there’s still a segment of our population that prefers printed material to digital products. Until that changes, print continues to have exclusive value to that consumer. That’s something many businesses still understand. A Pitney Bowes survey found that 76 percent of small businesses said their ideal marketing strategy is a combination of print and digital messages. Further, the Direct Mail Association Factbook shows that in 2013, 65 percent of consumers of all ages made a purchase as a result from direct mail. In other words, if you can get printed materials in someone’s hands, it’s still effective.
2. Technology is Improving — Printed materials continue to matter even as technology revolutionizes the world around us, and they matter in part because of new technologies. You’ve probably heard of 3D printing, where robot-like machines create usable products with girth and weight. That kind of technology remains just outside of accessibility for most businesses. But conventional printing options have evolved, too. Modern multifunction printers can make saddle-stitched booklets, and stack, slit, cut, crease or make a perfect bound booklet as well. The only thing these machines can’t do is shake your client’s hand after you’ve completed the sales pitch.
3. Quality is Improving, Too — The quality of the documents themselves is improving, as are the quality of the images on them. If you haven’t tried a print campaign in a while, you might be surprised how far printed material has advanced. I’m seeing gold toner and clear toner used more frequently now, something we couldn’t do even a few years ago. In particular, the clear toner creates a translucent sheen when it’s printed. It produces a simple watermark on your document, but not something that’s so complicated it requires a black light to see. If you’re printing something you worry can be counterfeited, try clear toner. A quality printer can make it in a hurry, but it can’t be duplicated on a flimsy ink jet printer some ticket forger might have at home. You’ll also be amazed at the difference between the images you knew from a few years ago and the current line of printed materials. Documents made in your office can now resemble the work done on large offset printers, and your clients will never guess your documents were made with toner on paper.
4. Small Batches Make a Difference — We’re also learning so much more about the business of how people use printed materials. If you go through a traditional firm for a print order, they’ll likely try to add on to your order and push a few extra copies. But research shows that 50 to 60 percent of large print orders never get used. What’s more, you’ll keep using the same materials over a longer period of time, which means changes to the document are needed and you’re forced to scribble your new cell phone number on the back of your old business card. Research also shows you’ll use 15 to 20 percent of your printed items with incorrect phone numbers, email addresses or company rosters. But with advanced print systems accessible in the small business or even home office realm, you can bypass those trends. Having the ability to print a document or two at a time changes everything. You can print only what you’ll need for your next sales call, and that means the information you’ll give out can always be correct.
5. It’s Accessible Yet Permanent — Technology is certainly changing the way we work, but it’s making things better. Think about a legal form a lawyer might have at the ready. As regulations and laws change, the source document can now change with them. And with the ability to search for text on a PDF, you can locate the outdated text. There’s no room for antiquated documents in our new world, and with this new technology you can keep fewer digital records and print fewer outdated forms.
You’ll also never run out of battery power on a printed itinerary, like I’ve done with the one in my phone. Creating multiple copies of the same document in different realms – printed and digital – makes sense. In the event of a catastrophic failure, you’ve always got a working copy, because power outages don’t have much effect on a printed document.
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