How Do We Fix It?

A month or so ago, Joe Webb wrote an article where he covered all sorts of topics (when doesn’t he?), but here’s a tidbit that got my attention.  Especially in light of the industry’s trade associations working on “Value of Print” campaigns (including PIA MidAmerica).

So what is the typical response to the rise of digital media and this aggressive adoption of mobile technology? To try to remind clients and prospects about how important print is, how campaigns are better with print, and how campaigns are flawed without it.

For this to work, former users of print, or novice users of print, have to be advised of their ignorance. Clearly, they are misinterpreting their own daily personal and business experiences with today’s media, smartphones, and other technologies. Their constant communications with co-workers, friends, and family in digital format, their enjoyment of e-books, websites, and benefits of e-commerce, and ability to find most anything in Google or Bing in seconds, all now done as second nature, are somehow lacking. It’s like telling them their lifestyle is stupid.

It also means that you are telling them that the decades of-ingrained cultural emphasis on reducing paper use as a responsible action and the belief that “junk mail” is wasteful (and possibly an invasion of privacy), which they have been taught for more than two decades, is not true. The cognitive dissonance this generates makes the “life is better with print and flawed without it” message ineffective and easily dismissed as an old industry flailing around as it tries to recapture a glorious past.

I do think that our “Value” campaigns are necessary — but they are not going to change the needle dramatically.  If we don’t demonstrate the strengths of print, no one else will.  Yet, as Webb challenges us in this article, we are not going to stop the inevitable – print is no longer the dominant visual communication tool.  Thus, for us to survive in this new world, we must understand the role print plays in communication – and more importantly for our survival – begin to create a new role for our businesses.


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