You can read a magazine online or a book on a mobile device, but you can't use a website to decorate a lorry or package an LP, so many B2B print applications are unlikely to be filched by the internet
If you’re reading this article in its print-on-paper form, you are, of course, holding a piece of business-to-business print in your hands. But you might be in the minority. For B2B magazine publishers are one of the most notably challenged areas of publishing, with a plethora of titles switching to an online-only model.
But, luckily for printers, other areas of B2B printing are holding up better in this digital age. And so B2B printing looks set to continue to be a mainstay of many printers’ workloads for years to come.
Take vehicle wraps. As our profile below on the Stobart Group shows, a relatively straightforward use of print as a powerful branding tool has helped propel this company into a position where it is a household name, 15th in fact in the latest Business Superbrands survey, ranking higher than giants including DHL, BT, Shell and Vodafone.
Then there are glossy customer magazines, produced to convey the manufacturing excellence of the likes of Rolls-Royce, which held the top spot in this Superbrands survey.
Then, of course, there’s direct mail, still used to a huge degree, even by companies synonymous with the digital world, such as Google, which ranked second in the brand survey. This makes for an interesting and persuasive case study in showing print’s enduring value to businesses. Via its campaign management partner, HH Global, Google turned to direct mail when it wanted to target 5m B2B customers in 42 countries.
And in the USA, Google has been piloting a transactional statement for users of Google Adwords, comprising a distinctive, square-shaped mailing containing information on the customer’s individual usage, along with ideas about ways to gain increased value from the service.
"People paid attention to the paper that showed up, not the email," says transactional print expert Pat McGrew, production mail evangelist at HP.
So, as the following profiles show, print is certainly continuing to do exciting and innovative things in the business world.
The Vinyl Factory
Records are on the up, with a growing band of aficionados appreciating the medium’s many distinct advantages over CDs and digital music channels. The Vinyl Factory, which has a pressing plant in Hayes and gallery spaces in Soho and Chelsea, was founded in 2001, and the business inherited the equipment of the former EMI Records pressing plant.
"A project for Jamie Hewlett involved PVC flooded red and then printed with black. The result was very vibrant and super colourful. We often have unusual requirements and we want to work with people who are open to that."
How many businesses have their own fan clubs with thousands of members? This one does. Think of Stobart and the immediate image is that of one of the group’s distinctive lorries, emblazoned with the name of Eddie Stobart, who founded the business 42 years ago.
Partner company AST Signs, based in Cumbria, is responsible for the vehicle graphics and there’s a time-lapse video of the process on the company’s website (visit bit.ly/OXBSvG). The wrapping of one of Stobart’s new Scania trucks "Sarah Emily" takes almost six hours.
ExCel London, the international convention and exhibition space, located in London’s Docklands, will become a more familiar location to the printing industry over the next couple of years, with Fespa 2013 and Ipex 2014 exhibitions both choosing the venue.
"Everything we print is of value, either for potential business or to an existing client. Print works well for us; it’s a good part of our marketing mix."
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