Wednesday, November 09, 2005

 

Welcome to the "Offline Media" Industry

If you don't know what that is, it's us. For the past few weeks, I've been noticing that print is being referred to in this way. It's not like it's a name we picked for ourselves; it has been assigned to us. "Off" is probably the operative word. Most of the discussion has come out of the ad:tech show in New York (I mentioned this the other day in this blog).

For a while we've been told about how the industry should promote itself, and this was the reason supposedly for the creation of the Print Council http://www.theprintcouncil.org/. The Print Council was not at ad:tech. No printer had a booth. No printer was on a panel. I don't know if any printers attended, but if they did, I imagine it was a tiny portion of their attendance.

These are the kinds of people who are helping organizations like the Phoenix Visitors Bureau switch away from print. These are the people who are telling decision-makers that print is expensive and ineffective. No one was there to make the case about how our industry has among it some of the most innovative applications that can increase response and lower long-run costs.

Instead of aggressively pursuing this audience, our industry does nothing to change our situation except send out press releases as Microsoft Word file attachments, and does nothing to attack the documented deliverability problems of e-mail promotions.

Our industry needs to be among the best of the new media practitioners. If we believe that we are in the "communications business" (I say we're in the "communications logistics" business, actually), then we have to act that way.

I advise everyone to look at the site www.constantcontact.com. It's a template-based e-mail marketing program for small businesses. The closest thing to this approach our industry has is Vistaprint.
Constant Contact It has been mentioned in these recent stories http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=34525 and at http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=34592. Who told me about this company? Two consultants who serve the printing industry! It's simple to use (but you have to follow the steps). Like any template-drive service, you are limited, but their implementation and back-end services of list management save you incredible amounts of money.

Our industry is a small business industry, and we serve small businesses regularly. Yet, we have let Staples/OfficeMax/OfficeDepot/FedEx take our customers away from us; most of customers of those services
have no idea what a printing business is or can do for them.

At Print05, I outlined the steps our industry must take. We have to look at ourselves in the eye and say:
The first step toward solving a problem is to admit that you have one. In managing investments, preserving capital (avoiding losses) is an important step toward building wealth. In business, there is a saying to "not throw good money after bad."

So let's take our first steps. Let's say it together: "Electronic media have undeniable and pre-emptive advantages in the marketplace." There, that was good. Now add this: "The recognition of those advantages is growing." Okay, now add this: "I will do something that adds new media to the marketing arsenal of my printing business, and I will use new media myself as a means of showing that print executives understand the new world of communications."

It's exciting to get into a new business, and saying these things is the first step. If we don't do this, we will become marginalized as the "offline media" business, and that's not a good thing. After all, "The Offline Media Council" does not have a compelling ring to it.

Note: Richard Romano has written about his own ad:tech experience in his Blogito Ergo Sum blog which is at http://blogrr.blogspot.com/. His November 8 posting promises to add more comments through the week, so check back often.

Comments:
Print-marketers need to squash this phrase fast.

I can see how some "witty" internet marketer came up with the phrase, but I think having the print industry referred to as an offline media provider is really really bad and should be considered harmful.

A lot of printers have realized that they can no longer remain profitable by just transferring ink to paper and have invested in high tech digital, electronic media and publishing systems and infrastructure that allow them to provide many of the same services internet marketers offer.
 
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