Everyone from business owners and Millennials to the teens of Generation Z are recognizing digital fatigue and hanging onto print, even as AI gains momentum and smartphones are in hand.
In the halls of high schools today, teenagers are putting down the smartphones and snapping instant photos, completely enamored with the chance to hold onto something important to them for REAL. They are sticking these photos in each other’s lockers, exchanging personalized photo albums and using permanent markers to note dates, times and personalized messages to some of the subjects of their printed shots. Instagram is collecting examples of this trend among people so familiar to those born in the 20th century (said with a wink). They are posting digital photos of their PRINTED photos and hand written notes on the popular social media channel.
As the notifications continue to invade their senses from endless smartphone saturation, young people join the refuse-to-retire printed versions of everything they love (which likely includes your business). In earnest and for fun, they collect printed photos, personalized journals and autograph books even as they post photos of these treasures online. Stationery that has been personalized carries status and appeal with a youthful generation that forever strives not to be “fake”. They will not be robbed of the care and authenticity that is linked forever to real print.
In a recent Washington Post article, Don Kilburn, President for Pearson, the world’s largest college textbook publisher, said that the transition to purely digital textbooks “doesn’t look like a revolution right now. It looks like an evolution, and it’s lumpy at best.”
Why would a transition to digital educational materials be “lumpy”? The reasons are visceral and fixed in human preferences, proven time and again with each new generation that quickly becomes awash with digital floods from all angles and insists on a break with books, actual mail, or business cards that spark a memory of the person who gave it to us…and the reason why we kept it.
As consumers, even the youngest among us are setting mental and spiritual health boundaries by hanging onto print and not going all digital. The great thing about their choice is that print is responding to our love by lengthening its list of ways it can love us back. So, be smart and make print central to making and keeping connections, especially if you have a message to spread about your business.
Print remains the beginning of real connections for all generations and those delivering digital messages alone and ignoring this truth will not survive for long.
Print media that has our names on it hits our mailboxes and we pick it up right away, relieved it speaks to us without “spamming” us. It has this intensity in our hands that email, even if it too is personalized will never have. We know it takes more care and thoughtfulness to construct print media than it does to shoot out digital marketing. As time progresses, digital alone is perceived as not only impersonal, but arguably lazy. Who would want to do business with “lazy”? Nobody.
Creating a marketing strategy that beats your competition means finding just the right chemistry and that means more than one element.
Marketing specialists like Mike Geygan, owner of Minuteman Press in Lebanon, OH, took digital advances in stride as his franchisor leads the modern printing industry and its digital evolution. He says, “When I first became a franchise owner, offset printing ruled the industry; but the demands in business now are such that our capabilities grew and we became excellent at short run digital color printing and at personalization. A lot has changed in 26 years, but print remains strong. The digital revolution our experts predicted was premature, but ultimately correct. When it happened, it was a digital avalanche and I saw it coming before many did. Still, print is in demand.”
Step away from the keyboard and go get printed using QR codes and NFC
Today, you do not have to hope people see your buried email campaign and visit your website. You can go get your QR codes printed in the colors that honor your brand or message. In that way, you easily blend your brand between print and digital channels.
- Near-field communication or NFC, is available in many devices and uses a microchip as a way to send signals to your mobile device without forcing you to scan anything. You simply tap the print media you get in the mail, pick up at an event or see on display against your device and the NFC technology will connect you to a website immediately. This is good to know as both a consumer and a business owner. Use it.
- Giving out promotional products is not seen as marketing, really. If you print your logo on something, people feel you are giving them a gift; and these days, pretty much anything you can have and hold can be imprinted with your heart’s desire. People will keep and use their gifts, too.
As a matter of fact, the Advertising Specialty Institute tells us that 84% of Americans “retain a company’s name when they receive promotional gifts with that company’s logo on it.”
A 16 year old junior at Northport High School in New York, Pegeen, said, “Print is different. It’s cool. My friend group and I just went to Disney and I like to take instant photos, hold them up and use my subject as a background – and then I take a digital photo of the printed picture in that setting and post it on Snap and Instagram. We have photo albums and we personalize them by printing stuff and writing dates and notes. It’s easy to get sick of digital everything. There’s no reason to because we have both.”
Google uses print, too! Minuteman Press owners Kim Rancatore and Diane Lavender (Pittsburgh and N. Versailles, PA) have taken care of the requests Google has made for print and have done so to the digital giant’s satisfaction. Kim, a multi-unit franchise owner, explains, “Google has a big office here by our Shady Side center and in November, their CEO came to town to announce that he was giving a billion dollars to charity, in this case, schools and community centers. The dignitaries, such as the Governor and the Mayor of Pittsburgh, needed name tags. They called us on Tuesday from San Francisco and requested these by Wednesday night and these were not the “peel and stick” labels. They wanted name tags made of heavy substrate, color-coded to differentiate Google staff from politicians and other attendees. They sent us a spreadsheet and of course, everything had to be set up to be compliant with their brand.”
The heat was on and because Minuteman Press is the modern printing industry, Google was wise to trust them with this tight deadline. “Diane set it all up and they trusted us to get it done with a 24 hour turnaround time. It was pretty challenging and it was a big deal to them, so as we progressed, we sent photos to San Francisco to put them at ease. We completed the job and delivered it to Google offices.”
Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President in the Southwest, Jack Panzer, recalls a story about a business owner who abandoned print, only to recognize that it was a big mistake.
Fortunately, Jack recalls how a Californian Minuteman Press franchise owner was out marketing and stopped by at just the right time. He explains, “I have many stories of times our franchise owners have helped bring balance back to business owners who may have hurt sales by steering away from print. One that comes to mind was when Roger Casas (owner of Minuteman Press in Carson, CA) went out marketing and walked in to chat with the owner of a company that makes custom screened doors. The owner said he didn’t need anything, but mentioned that sales were down. As they talked, the man said he stopped using printed brochures and switched to emailing PDFs to promote his business. Roger reminded him that people like printed marketing collateral and how brochures and catalogs are indeed effective. He suggested that giving them up very well may have been why sales were disappointing. In the end, the gentleman wound up placing an order for 50,000 catalogs to jumpstart growth again. He needed to realize, through lost sales, the value of combining print and digital marketing vs. merely sending out a promotional email.”
The modern printing industry thrives because no one survives on digital alone, both personally and professionally. The youngest consumers and the most seasoned business owners all concur; print is irreplaceable and it is the perfect companion to our digital endeavors.