Help convert the unenlightened by preaching print’s power

Richard Stuart-Turner
Monday, June 24, 2019

Championing print’s effectiveness and engaging with end-users will help the industry’s cause while potentially opening new doors.

It can be easy to get bogged down in the day job, but taking the time out to promote the power of print can both help the industry’s overall health and create new business opportunities that might otherwise be missed.

While many printers use their websites and social media to shout about their own wares and proud projects, one of the most effective ways to promote print’s unique attributes to marketers, brands and other existing or prospective clients is to attend, exhibit or speak at some of the industry events set up to do exactly that.

Examples include Two Sides’ Power of Print seminar (see opinion column) and Everything’s Possible in Integrated Communications (EPIC), an event for marketing professionals organised by the Independent Print Industries Association (IPIA) that will next be held at London’s Congress Centre on 3 July.

“This conference is all about trying to inspire the clients to see the additional value print can bring and all the clever stuff we can do to support their marketing,” says IPIA chief executive Marian Stefani.

“What we have to do as an industry is fight back against the digital revolution to say that digital is fantastic, but we still have a place in it. Put print back into that digital and online mix and you’ve got the most fantastic campaign.

“So many initiatives have been developed by the print industry to tell brands what we do, rather than looking at their challenges and explaining how the print industry can help them, and that’s what we’ve done differently with EPIC.”

Robert McClements, president of CDI, the special interest group of the BPIF that curates the annual Visual Media Conference in Leeds, believes that “there is always a case to do more” when it comes to promoting print.

“I think that the industry falls into the usual description of the innovators, the laggards and those in the middle who are interested but not quite sure what to do next. That’s where the BPIF is making urgent efforts to encourage and engage with those people to move them all into the innovation slot and to take advantage of it.”

Other ways that some printers are getting involved with highlighting the industry’s possibilities include training days, conferences and in-house academies or hubs.

St Austell Printing Company will hold its second ‘Print Power’ event on 11 July, with the aim to encourage anybody that uses or has considered using print “to use it as effectively as they can”.

Meanwhile, at its Spark digital innovation centre in Stansted, ProCo regularly invites customers to visit for inspiration and to attend educational sessions.

“Our Spark team are dedicated to adding value, coming up with new ideas, delivering new concepts to clients and also to train people,” says ProCo chief executive Jon Bailey.

“The industry is changing so much, there are a lot of people under pressure. We all know that margins are being squeezed, and when that’s happening I feel you’ve got to do anything you can to try and generate that margin and business.

“For me the way to do that is to really show the power of what print can do, how it has changed and evolved, and how actually it is a modern, innovative industry.

“People still don’t really see that in all cases so we have to try and change existing beliefs but we also have to get in front of people that are coming into the industry to show them just how cool it is, because we need to re-energise it.”

Webmart chief executive Simon Biltcliffe says his company frequently holds in-house training days, both for end clients as well as those that sell print who are looking to enhance their sector knowledge in order to cross-sell.

“As soon as you’re one degree away from what you are comfortable with in print you are a virgin like everyone else, so we help with the cross-selling. You may have a good relationship with your customer, and selling more to your existing customers is the most cost-effective way of growing your gross profit.”

Biltcliffe believes it is crucial for printers to make the time to promote themselves and the industry.

“Selling more is a key part of anybody’s day job if they want to stay in business.

“If you look at the companies that are succeeding in this marketplace, it is those that get out there and get involved with initiatives.

“There’s an old adage that in sales you make your own luck; the more you go out and see people, the luckier you get.”

He adds: “There are great companies who print really well and have great people that are going bust because what has worked before isn’t working now.

“You’ve got to get out and about and see people, that’s where you create unique value and where people say ‘while you’re here, can you have a look at this for me?’ or ‘do you know anybody that can do this?’ - of course we do.”

Biltcliffe also advises the avoidance of ‘print speak’ when talking to clients about print.

“I think that printers should turn every term that they use that’s print related into a digital term and they’ll get immediate resonance.

“If their life depended on it many people couldn’t tell you what a C5 envelope is so why do we use those terms? It’s like anything in selling, it’s empathy – shout louder but in their language.”

He concludes, with a final piece of advice: “Get out, promote yourself and bring some young talent into the industry. They come preloaded from school or college with all the knowledge about social media networks and ways of doing things.”

We must explain and prove why print is so effective

tameJonathan Tame
Managing director, Two Sides
Media choices are driven by effectiveness and ROI. Print is just one medium of many, and we must explain and prove why it is so effective, how it can build brands, influence buying decisions and communicate important information like no other media.

However, despite being a communications industry, we are currently not good enough at explaining the power of print. We well know that when print is added to the media mix it can turbo-charge campaigns, boosting effectiveness by 15%.

Major brands like KFC, Volkswagen and Ikea understand the trust engendered by print, and even digital brands like Facebook, Airbnb and Uber have all turned to print to capitalise on its lean back engagement qualities. So, how can we better inform and promote the power of print?

Two Sides and Print Power provide resources for the industry to use on the sustainability and effectiveness of print media. Research, ‘factographics’, case studies, opinion leaders and great examples of successful print campaigns all provide compelling reasons why print should be an integral part of the marketing mix.

An essential date for your diary is the Power of Print Seminar on 5 November. Now in its ninth year, it hosts expert speakers and thought leaders in print, marketing and sustainability, for a fascinating day of knowledge and inspiration.

According to Kim Willis of Cedar Communications: “The power of print seminar brings together leading experts from psychological, creative and commercial perspectives. A dynamic and engaging day that’s a must for anyone working with print media, where attendees will walk away inspired and informed about the future.”

This must-attend event attracts over 200 leaders from the print, paper, publishing, packaging and media industries – booking is essential. For more information, visit

Reader reaction

Is it important to you to promote print’s power?

buntMatt Bunt
Marketing and communications manager, St Austell Printing Company
“Ultimately we are printers and we want to ensure that the future of marketers and companies using print is secure. Because digital has taken over so much over the last few years, a lot of people have lost touch with the power of print, why it should be used as part of the marketing mix, and also how print has come full circle and how it is probably even more powerful now because of the way it works with digital. It is important to make sure that digital-first marketers understand what print can do.”

nathanNathan Swinson-Bullough
Managing director, Imageco
“We do get out there, although more so through social media and LinkedIn. I encourage everyone who is on there to share and post any work we do that we can shout about, and we’ve taken on board a marketing team who are constantly looking for new content. It’s doing well because we do get enquiries off the back of what we post, and we’ve had some nice feedback. Our website is also important and its tone of voice – we try and get a young, enthusiastic look on our posts.”

robertsMike Roberts
Managing director, PMG Print Management
“If we can engage with the brands and agencies that consume product, it gives a lifeline or benefit for the industry as a whole, not just specific sectors. We’ve all got 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week – you’ve got to make the time to do this, otherwise how are you going to engage with people? Print is tactile and if you get it right in terms of design and you time it right in terms of delivery, you are going to make an impact for your product or your brand far over and above digital.”


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