In this fifth blog in my Power of Print series, we will start to examine some of the key technological advances that have transformed the print industry. Some such advances have led to new, fierce competition, in the form of digital communications; others, however, have greatly enhanced the ability of print to provide significant commercial advantage.
Those of us who have been in the industry for a while will remember how involved it used to be to develop and source print. From design, the production of physical artwork through to repro and the need for large print volumes for economies of scale, sourcing print was quite a commitment.
It is perhaps no surprise that the development of digital marketing platforms was greeted with such fervour, with their apparent ease of use, cost effectiveness and tracking capabilities. In the ensuing digital gold rush, many in the marketing profession failed to notice that the print industry was quietly undergoing a revolution of its own.
For the contemporary marketer, pressure on budgets has never been greater, with the proliferation of media now at their fingertips. Add to this the increasing need to demonstrate return on investment – at the same time as maintaining brand integrity – and their lot is not an easy one.
So, how can we as agencies and printers shoulder some of that burden – and, in so doing, further engender client loyalty?
Web to Print offers a powerful solution. Now, please don’t glaze over quite yet – I promise it will be worth sticking with me on this! Around for the last twenty years, it is only now starting to gain broad appeal, as the likes of Vistaprint and Funky Pigeon have created the expectation that high quality, cost effective print can be sourced online.
And there are some considerable advantages for client, agency and printer alike.
In simple terms, Web to Print is an online ordering portal and brand management system rolled into one. Streamlining ordering and approval processes cuts out much to-ing and fro-ing, creating enormous efficiencies for all. This is particularly powerful in multi-site operations, such as franchises, retailers and multi-nationals, where a variety of people are responsible for sourcing a broad range of different items.
In the ferociously price competitive printing industry, these efficiencies gives margins valuable breathing space. Pre-approved designs, pricing and payment terms reduce invoice queries and approvals, leading to faster payment. And visibility of stock levels and ease of reordering ensures your client keeps inventory at manageable levels and is prompted to re-order from you as required.
For the marketer, brand integrity is maintained through templated designs, strict securities and access, eliminating maverick orders and use of out-dated marketing assets. From simple orders for business stationery and other stock items, through to personalised point of sale and event literature, consistency and adherence to current guidelines can be ensured. Time is freed up by decentralising the development and ordering of marketing materials, allowing marketers to focus on added value activities. And consolidation of print requirements, streamlining of processes and real-time reporting drives down costs, thereby improving ROI and further enhancing the attractiveness of print.
For agencies, the development of templates frees designers from the grunt of data input, allowing them use their creative talents to the full. The approval function provides a solid workflow for sign off, reducing delays and human interventions to chase things up. This leads to a more harmonious client relationship, which engenders future loyalty. Why would clients go elsewhere for the development of future marketing assets and campaigns?
As discussed in previous blogs in this series, print has a powerful impact as part of integrated marketing campaigns, engaging hearts and minds and driving strong returns. When developed and managed with the support of such a powerful tool as Web to Print, then everyone wins – marketer, agency, printer and of course the end customer. It almost seems crazy to be without it, doesn’t it?