The AIIM Blog

What Was Old Is New Again

Over 570 years ago the printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg, which gave the world the ability to rapidly spread various types of communication.  Since then, many new inventions have come along to increase the efficiency of delivering communications; Telegraphs, Radio, Television, Email and the Internet.

With every introduction of new technology, as different as each one is, there was always one constant theme that emerged – “Print is dead”.

However, here we are in 2013 and you are most likely reading this article in print form so quite clearly print is not dead and in this writer’s opinion – print is the NEW media!

I was recently hired by AIIM, an Aurora-based print solution provider, to assist in their re-branding to an integrated media company.  What impresses me about AIIM is that the management team is keenly focused on not being left behind by the shift in technology, rather they recognize it and are moving to embrace it, if not lead the way.

As part of AIIM’s change of focus to new technologies, they recently held a successful Open House where they shared their thoughts on the newest techniques and technology that they feel will be at the forefront in 2013

Continuous Inkjet Technology

We can all agree that compared to 5-7 years ago, the volume of printed material and direct mail has decreased.  Many marketers switched their communication focus to email as it is less expensive than print and in most cases, faster to deliver.  But what we’re seeing now is a drift back to direct mail since marketers are realizing that reducing their marketing costs to deliver their message is irrelevant if they’re not getting any gains in sales or campaign lift.

This resurgence in direct mail is partly due to marketers learning that mailing smarter is the better choice to make.  To mail smarter, companies need to make their direct mail engaging and relevant to the individual.  Creating an engaging piece means that marketers need to understand the data that they have available in their CRM database and utilize that data to make the client read their mail!

A new way to create fully variable, engaging direct mail is through the use of Continuous Inkjet technology, only available in Canada from AIIM.  This new process gives you the ability to create fully variable direct mail campaigns with multiple different data points, in full colour, with variable images for the same cost that you print shells and laser in black and white today.

In addition to full variability you can tip on gift or loyalty cards, add inserts and laser additional messages on the face of a closed faced envelope.  The variability and customization that Continuous Inkjet technology offers will help marketers add an unprecedented lift to their current marketing campaigns. Furthermore, by integrating social media to these campaigns the direct mail piece becomes a conversation starter that will generate new leads & potential sales.

Augmented Reality

With all the new technology we have today to deliver marketing communications, print is now the new media…with the use of Augmented Reality (AR).  AR is a new technology that utilizes a tablet or smartphone’s camera to view digital content that has been added to printed collateral.

The digital content can range from the simple to the complex.  For example, imagine sitting down to read your favourite retail catalogue and seeing a new item you’d like to buy.  Normally you would make a mental note to buy that item the next time you’re in the store and most likely you will forget!  However, with AR you can now make that item come to life.  When scanning the catalogue with a smartphone or tablet that item can now be viewed at all angles by swiping the screen, you can change the colour or model by tapping on screen buttons and once complete go right to the retailer’s e-commerce site to purchase the item.  And all this would be done right in the comfort of your living room.

Other applications can include:

  • Movie posters that once scanned will play a scene from the movie.  The user is then connected to the local movie theatre to purchase tickets.
  • Annual reports that play the CEO’s annual address while viewing the report with a device.
  • Consumer goods packages that, once scanned, show a video or product demo and then sends you a barcode image through your device that can be scanned at the register for an immediate discount.
  • Furniture catalogues that you place on the floor and select different pieces of furniture that once viewed through the device show a real-sized image of furniture so that you can see what it will look like in your home.

QR Codes, PURL’s & Social Sharing

To add to interactive print, don’t forget about the use of QR codes and PURL’s.  These simple but effective tools can be an effective way to create interactive print collateral by again adding your CRM data.  Again, with the prevalence of smartphones, consumers can access these tools wherever they encounter them, through posters, transit advertising, direct mail or outdoor advertising.

Lastly, AIIM provides a social sharing service called aiim•SOCIAL, that allows companies to create integrated marketing campaigns utilizing many different tactics and have all those tactics driven through a microsite.  Once on the microsite, visitors can share the message or offer through their social communities (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) creating potentially viral campaigns.  The benefit of this service is that it can track all the social traffic in addition to providing you with cost of acquisition and ROI analysis for all the tactics in a campaign.

So in 2013, the next time you hear someone say “print is dead” counter that with the statement “Print is the NEW media”!  In my opinion, print is not going anywhere and frankly should be a healthy part of your marketing mix.  Create robust, personalized and engaging campaigns that integrate old and new methods.  Don’t assume that your customers only want to engage with your company through one channel.  Print, email, digital, & social media – the old and the new – should be integrated into one seamless experience that ultimately drives the end result…the purchase and use of your product or service.