Is custom printing going the way of the dinosaur?

Is_print_a_dinosourWell, the highly debatable issue over whether or not custom printing is doomed depends on who is asked the question. To prove my point, take a look at this Pro and Con piece in the Debate Room on the Business Week  website:

On the pro side of this online debate –Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis is the author of Geeks Bearing Gifts: Imagining New Futures for News, Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live, and What Would Google Do?  He also blogs about media and news at, and cohosts the podcast This Week in Google. Before digital, Jeff was creator and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly; Sunday editor and associate publisher of the New York Daily News; TV critic for TV Guide and People; and a columnist on the San Francisco Examiner.

On the con side of this online debate is Chris Tolles

Chris Tolles is CEO and co-founder of Topix. Topix claims to be the leading news community on the Web, connecting 12.4 million people (comScore, Jan 2013) to the information and discussions that matter to them in every U.S. town and city. In addition to Topix, Chris co-founded NewHoo (now the Open Directory Project within AOL) and Spoke Software. Chris also ran product development at Aol music and Netscape Search, and was an executive at Sun Microsystems who ran marketing for Sun’s security products group.

Let’s see what Jeff thinks—Pros reasoning Is print becoming a dinosaur

Jeff’s belief is that custom print isn’t bad; it’s just that it costs too darn much for publication printers to deliver. He feels that digital, on the other hand, has many advantages—among them, ubiquity, speed, permanence, searchability, the ability to update, targeting, interaction, marketing via links, etc. Now factor in the cost of production and distribution of print that Jeff feels is much too high, especially when compared to the relative cheapness of digital content, and you might just take his side of this highly debatable issue, which is that custom printing services have seen their better days.

Now let’s see what Chris thinks—

Cons reasoning is print becoming a dinosaurEven though Chris runs an online-only news site in Silicon Valley, you’d think he’d argue that custom print from publication printers is pushing up daisies. But he doesn’t. In fact, he believes that technology is not killing print, it’s only changing the role of content itself. Chris feels online is a good way to get folks to participate about products. But he also feels that print is becoming a better way to promote new, experiential products that folks learn about online. Chris’ argument is echoed by many others who feel that materials from providers of commercial printing services offer a physical presence with a power that is far too compelling to ignore.

Here are my thoughts on this debate:

Do I promote my business online with Google AdWords, Social media and email marketing?  Or, do I use the tried and tested method of marketing – print?  The answer is I do both.

Sure, it may appear that electronic media is going to replace print. But a closer look reveals that print isn’t disappearing; it has instead shown new potential in many areas of marketing that might never have developed if it weren’t for the digital age. The diference is that print is now only one component in a marketer’s tool chest.

There’s no denying that the number of devices helping us connect to the Internet is growing at a rapid pace. On a daily basis I personally use a desktop and laptop computer, a smart phone, and my iPad, all of which give me instant access to the web. And now, we have access to the Internet almost anywhere in the world. So why use print at all?  The answer is simple – you do whatever works for your business, whatever gives you additional sales and higher ROI.

My advice is to leverage both digital and print to open new avenues of growth and stay in touch with your prospects. With modern digital printing methods, personalizing –along with cross-media campaigns featuring unique messages promoting your product or service– is easily achieved with the right data. The so called dinosaur can actually work!  Personalization is not just about adding a name and address, it’s about compiling data about your target market and personalizing information about your targeted audience. What can be personalized? The answer is simple – EVERYTHING on the printed page!

At the end of the day, the power of print should never be underestimated. So the next time you read that print is dead, please keep in mind that print can build your brand and influence decision makers. And when correctly connected with digital campaigns, you have a one-two punch that will floor the competition!

This oft-debated issue will surely rage on. Hopefully you enjoyed these rounds of the fight. Are you leaning pro or con? Let me know, I’m anxious to learn your thoughts.

Best of Days to You,

Audrey Ferrante
Ferrante & Associates, Inc.



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