By Oliver Eills
Regional Director-Publicates, Middle East

The opinion that print is a dead or dying old legacy technology is as inaccurate as believing that we have invented all we can invent. Print has evolved and its DNA has adapted so that it is now accepted as a valid, viable, valuable and necessary component of the integrated marketing and media convergence tool kit.

Print has also mutated in a good way to offer the print provider new and exciting opportunities for profitability. To be successful, the print provider, printer, print buyer and publisher must develop and cultivate a deep-rooted understanding of the use of integrated media and the paths to media convergence.

Let’s begin with what print is not. Print is not the sole media to consider. Print is a focal point to which you can hitch or link other media so that you and your clients may benefit from the proper use of that newly established link. That is, of course, if you know which media offers the most potential for success—in the form of profit for you and your client—and how best to deploy it.

In the maxi-multichannel world of today, the print provider must understand the seven pillars of promotion—advertising, direct marketing, interactive, sales promotion, publicity, personal selling and exhibitions—and be prepared to horizontally and vertically sow new business across these very green and fertile fields.

The questions remain, why and how?

The why is simple! Your clients and customers rarely operate in just one media channel. You might serve only one or two channels for them, but in most cases they participate in all seven. They might be able to use your assistance to navigate this broad-based max-multichannel effort.

The how is a bit more complex. You need to integrate your media, marketing, communications and print skills into a tool that offers solutions to your clients’ pain points, which often revolve around the integration of media. Although integrated marketing communications and integrated branding promotions are not new concepts, they are unfamiliar to many people in the traditional print industry, which for years was a walled-off niche within a niche. The good news is that this has changed.

First you must understand your customer’s industry and the tools their industry, vertical or niche require being successful. Then you can offer the correct balance of tools in support of your services.

With the correct level of knowledge, print providers can redefine themselves and expand their service mix based not on what they think the client needs but on an understanding of their customers’ needs and pain points, as well as some intellectual capital and the willingness to understand that print and all that surrounds print has changed.