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To Print or Not to Print, that is the Question

Opinion Editorial Attributed to Shadi Bakhour, Business Unit Director, B2B, Canon Middle East

How do you consume your media – smartphone, tablet or laptop? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok or podcast? Which streaming service do you use for watching television series and movies – OSN, Netflix, Amazon Prime or something else?

In recent years, digital broadcasting and communication has infiltrated every aspect of our personal and professional lives, and it can perhaps be difficult to remember how relatively simple our lives once were. But while clickbait and a seemingly never-ending stream of content and information continue to shakily rule our reading, entertainment and news consumption habits, print media has been evolving, too, to become a formidable weapon in the arsenal of marketing professionals around the world.

When it comes to communications, linearity is a thing of the past – to really stand out these days, companies must make use of a sizable array of different media and methods to ensure they’re seen and heard, and (of course) there’s a label for that: omnichannel. Customer journeys can be short and to the point, or they can meander for weeks along different routes, so marketing professionals need to ensure their fingers are on several pulse points at the same time if brand, service or product awareness is to result.

Despite any preconceptions you might have, there remains an important role for print to play in contemporary and future communications campaigns, as part of a multi-faceted approach combining personalized creative with digital data and interactivity. The trick to making it work, though, is seamless integration for maximum impact.

Recently a white paper was published, titled ‘Creative Futures – Collaboration for Creativity: Re-imagining Omnichannel Marketing Communications with Personalized Print’. It focuses on marketing with print as the main medium of execution of a campaign on behalf of YMCA. This came about as an outcome of a competition and the coming together of multiple stakeholders that represent the marketing ecosystem in this context.

What became crystal clear was that collaboration is key and the old-fashioned ‘silo’ approach to communications simply no longer works.“A lot of people talk about collaboration, but they don’t actually do it,” said Lucy Swanston, founder and managing director, Nutshell Creative and chair of The Strategic Mailing Partnership.

“As our initial conversations evolved, we knew we had to get everybody in the supply chain behind this – the print service provider, research, data, creative and the media agency to help plan this. Never before has anybody brought all of those components together to truly deliver a campaign. To tell the story collectively and understand everybody’s different challenges in that supply chain is incredible because everybody learns something along the way.”

The fact is, print is tactile and offers a visual appeal that cannot be matched by digital, and to integrate it into a campaign is to give yourself a definitive edge, so it’s worth the effort. And the white paper came up with four top tips for omnichannel marketing excellence with print:

  1. Know your audience – they should be at the heart of any marketing campaign and should be the focus of any communications, designs and channel considerations
  2. Be meaningful with the data you use – think about what information you have about your customer by channel, so that you can personalize the message to catch the eye of the recipient
  3. Where possible, be playful and personal with messaging – that’s what will lead to brilliant solutions. Explore what each different channel can offer and think about how it can inspire the senses and provide a seamless connection
  4. Consider how one touchpoint triggers another – understanding the interplay of different channels is key to omnichannel marketing success as, ultimately, it will amplify the core proposition and campaign idea

 Shadi Bakhour, B2B Business Unit Director, Canon Middle East

A ‘one size fits all’ approach to communications has long since ceased to be effective and print undoubtedly still has an essential role to play in getting specific messages across to specific audiences. Canon knows this more than anyone, and is determined to provide the technology, tools and knowhow to help everyone in the marketing and communications industries to deliver campaigns with maximum, unforgettable impact.

Oftentimes what might be initially dismissed as irrelevant or ‘old school’ actually comes through with a creative flourish while one’s competitors lean too heavily on new technology to convey even the most basic messaging. Ignore print at your peril – used appropriately it remains an incredibly powerful medium and, while we might be consuming our news, entertainment and other media digitally, when it comes to marketing print often has a tangible and utterly unique appeal.

Print has never been abandoned, and probably never will. But to survive in fast-moving landscapes, you need to adapt and do so quickly. Print has a vital part to play in effective omnichannel communications, and this means that makers and suppliers of the equipment used for quality printing need to be ready and able to meet the exacting demands of industry professionals around the globe.

To print, or not to print – that is the question. But your answer has the potential to make or break even the best campaign. Write off print at your peril – in a world of digital overload, sometimes there’s no school like the old school when it comes to making maximum impact.

Collaboration for Creativity is a must-read report for marketers looking for insights, inspiration, and advice on where to start and how to successfully utilize personalized print in the omnichannel mix. Download the report here

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