Industry leaders talk future-proofing print

A panel of some of the industry’s most influential names – Matt Aitkin of IVE Group, Craig Dunsford of Ovato, Deborah Burgess of Bright Print Group and Lachlan Finch of Rawson Print Co. – came together on the second last day of PrintEx19 to talk about the future of print and why printers need to collaborate to grow demand.

A lively debate ensued but what all agreed on was that print shops at every level can and should do better when it comes to marketing and talking about print as a premium product.

Burgess, speaking with passion, told the crowd: “We need to believe in the value of what we are producing. Print is a technology industry, not a manufacturing industry. We are an important element in the value chain of every customer we work with. Print is tangible, physical, and a well-constructed and designed print piece is very difficult to put down. We need to relay that to customers. The better we get at that, with our spectacular print getting out in the marketplace, the more companies will turn back to print to get their message out.

“Print is important for us as human beings to tell a message. People are realising the digital space is not what it is cracked up to be. Google is producing a million pieces of print a day.”

Forum facilitator, Kellie Northwood of The Real Media Collective, noted that Google is the one of the highest global users of direct mail.

Aitken and Dunsford, representing the largest and most diversified print companies in the country, discussed the need to work directly with clients to understand the role print plays in business.

As Dunsford explained, “Understanding a client’s whole campaign, not just the part we play is a huge thing for us. Understanding what your customer wants to achieve, then working out what we look after, and how that fits within the strategy.

“You need to follow up: ‘What happened, how did this print piece go for you? Have you thought about doing two, putting this together, splitting the budget?’

“Customers are appreciating that more from the printer. We are not just printers, we are partners.”

With digital marketing often driven by data, print can combine its real, physical power with numbers driving personalisation, better targeting buyers for customers.

This in turn drives up the value of print, explained Aitken.

“Data is being used, it is not just ink specs or data specs or printing efficiently. Print is more valuable than it has ever been, customers are spending more money on high-quality product, not just print as a commodity.

“With the data on the DM space for high quality, personalised print, there are phenomenal results coming out.”

When getting into new segments, collaborating with a fellow printer can allow you to test the waters, Finch told the crowd.

“Collaboration is crucial. In the space we work in it is hard to invest in big changes in your business. If you are certain, go for it, otherwise collaboration is a great way to test the waters and move forward,” Finch said.

“The industry is less competitive than 20 years ago, and more collaborative. We need each other to get by, we can work together instead of racing down to the bottom by competing on price.”

Burgess concluded, “Print is incredibly powerful, get passionate about it, and show everyone else outside print.”

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