Recently I was headed to Kansas City on a Southwest Airlines flight for our KC Awards Gala honoring our industry’s best and brightest. Which got me thinking about how the aviation industry has survived all these years providing a service which has become commonplace. An industry which has MAJOR capital investments, is highly regulated and unionized and still continues to survive, and in the case of Southwest Airlines — thrive.
The aviation industry has plenty of competition — not only from other airlines but from alternative travel options — all of which are cheaper. There’s no longer the exclusive thrill of traveling by air. It’s become a bit of a chore — but it has value.
And like the printing industry, it’s highly fragmented. Do you want to travel from Dallas to Kansas City? You can fly Southwest. You can fly American, or Delta, or United, and you can also charter — with more than a handful of companies. And of course, you could make the seven-eight hour drive. It just depends on what you value — time or money.
Print is very similar. Want it cheap — you can go online. Want an alternative media which is also cheap — use social media or email. But what is the user trying to accomplish? That is a question more and more marketers need to ask. Just because social media is cool, doesn’t mean it’s effective. And by effective I mean selling product – not just creating marketing buzz or “reinforcing the brand.”
So, just like the airline industry, we need to be out there reminding folks that print has value. It may not be one solution fits all, but as we all know, sometimes it’s better to fly than drive. Cheaper? Not necessarily — but when we choose to fly, we value time. Thus, it’s incumbent for us to remember that print is no longer a one solution fits all (yes, those days are gone; but so’s the horse drawn carriage). Our challenge is matching our marketers’ needs with the solutions we provide.