Seeking true believers

Whether at an industry event, a training session or a meeting, I find myself twitching when I hear some people in the industry talk in a way that concerns me. A voice that can become more powerful and more concerning than declining industry metrics, government cutbacks and site closures – I twitch when I hear a lack of confidence. Nervous comments about whether there will be a print industry in ten years, five years or three years. Fear about whether people will have the skills to work in the industry. A lack of confidence that print has no value, and more.

Some fears have merit – with print companies folding we can be concerned as to our future employment prospects. With a communications revolution we can also be guaranteed that our industry has and will continue to change over the coming years.

However fears concerning print’s value, relevance and future prospects carry no weight with me. As an industry we must stop focusing on each other and start focusing on print as an effective, cost-efficient and powerful media channel.

This is a media channel that offers a proven greater return on investment (ROI) than online, TV and radio. This is an industry that is universally reported by the largest research companies across Australia – Roy Morgan Research, Neilsen, and GfK to name a few – as the strongest performer in effectiveness and influence surveys. Survey after survey reveals that print delivers consistent high-performance results across all socio-economic and age demographics, and shows that print is the most trusted, credible and reliable media channel.

From an environmental perspective print is without doubt the most sustainable media channel, its carbon footprint, renewable raw materials and industry initiatives scoring well above TV, radio, digital and email.

This is not my opinion, there is no need to gain confidence from me; the research and data supports everything I am saying – print is a winner. Roy Morgan reports that “heavy print media users are more likely to be above average income earners, better educated and big spenders.” Music to marketers’ ears.

Roy Morgan continues, “Print media continues to be the dominant media channel among those who are asked for advice on a range of product and service categories.”

Psychology reports continue to reinforce the strength of print when retaining messaging – brand awareness is stronger when communicated via print, and commercial communication is most effective via paper and print. Your customers need to have these conversations, where they are discussing with you the incontrovertible benefits of print, not conversations forecasting the industry’s doom and gloom.

If we as an industry believe print has no merit then how can we expect our customers to invest valuable marketing budgets in us?

I am often asked if printers are doing enough to promote their own industry, and what can they do? My advice is to stick to your guns, declare proudly that print is still king, gather the research, collate the case studies and take them out to every sales call, every cross-media event, tag them to your websites, brochures and other marketing initiatives. When your real competitors – TV, radio, digital – talk to their customers they do not focus on who has the best camera equipment, microphones or ADSL line. They talk about one thing – results. They talk to their prospects about the effectiveness of TV, the ROI of digital and so on. It is time we do the same and start reclaiming some of the precious marketing dollars our industry may have lost in recent years. The research and data will back you up.

Kellie Northwood is the executive director of TSA Limited, running Two Sides Australia (environmental campaign) and VoPP (effectiveness campaign) for the paper and printing industry.

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