Thursday, December 01, 2005


Welcome to the"Offline Media" Business (Oh, by the way... that's printing!)

For the past few weeks, I've been noticing that print media are being referred to as "offline media." It's not a name we picked for ourselves; it has been assigned to us. "Off" is probably the operative word. Great! Now we're lumped in with events, product placement in movies and TV shows and samples. Most of the discussions that used this term came out of the recent ad:tech show in New York, where were many presentations about multichannel marketing and marketing mix issues.

The ad:tech show is where all executives interested in cutting edge business communications go. But no printer had a booth. No printer was on a panel. I don't know whether any printers attended, but if they did, I imagine the represented a tiny portion of the attendance.

The ad:tech attendees are the kinds of people who are helping organizations like the Phoenix Visitors Bureau switch away from print. That was quite a story, if you haven't heard it. Would-be vacationers were ordering brochures, only to have them arrive after their vacation was over. In about six months, the Bureau saved $60,000 in costs by switching to "e-brochures."

The ad:tech attendees are telling decision makers that print is expensive and ineffective. No one was there to make the case about how our industry offers some of the most innovative applications for increasing response rates for new media marketing as well as for delivering lower long-run total costs for clients.

I have yet to see the industry make a strong and consistent statement that pounces on the documented deliverability problems of e-mail promotions. Strangely enough, there was a presentation at ad:tech about using print and mail to clean up a company's e-mail list. By doing so, their e-mail bounces were reduced to 1%.
Our industry needs to be among the best of the new media practitioners. If we believe that we are in the "communications business" (I say we're in the "communications logistics" business, actually), then we have to act that way.

Our industry is a small business industry, and we serve small businesses regularly. Yet, we have let Staples/OfficeMax/OfficeDepot/FedEx Kinko's take our customers away from us; most of the customers of those services have no idea what a printing business is or what it can do for them. Printing? Oh, I have a Staples coupon for that... It's time to change.

Read about the Phoenix Visitors Bureau

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