This fall, those of us who value paper-based communications have two different industry shows to choose from. Last week, I attended the final iteration of APTech-sponsored PRINT 19 at McCormick Center in Chicago, the traditional fall show for the printing industry. Next year, this show combines with LabelExpo and transforms into Brand Print Americas 2020, moving to the Donald E. Stevens Convention Center, near O’Hare airport, rather than in the Loop. The “upstart” contender is PRINTING United, sponsored by SGIA/NAPCO, which takes place in two weeks in Dallas. Stay tuned to SpeakingDIRECT for insights from my colleague Mike Todryk on that show in early November, but let’s start with a look at PRINT 19.
This last event under the PRINT banner was an engaging, compelling experience for attendees. Let’s dig into the highlights from this year’s show.
What Got People Talking at PRINT 19
Inkjet and mail were both hot topics at PRINT. In his session, “The Status of Printing in the USA – Where We Really Are Today and a Clear Look at the Future,” printing industry “curmudgeon emeritus” Frank Romano reported that while print overall was projected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2022 of -1.2%, digital (primarily production inkjet) print was projected to grow 2.3% between 2016 and 2021. In “And Now for Something Really Interesting: Next Big Thing in Print and Mail!,” Marc Mascara of Keypoint Intelligence reported even more robust growth of 6.9% CAGR for digital print between 2017 and 2022.
Romano also observed that “direct mail is starting to come back,” and that “personalized direct mail is one of the best ways to reach people and get their attention.” Both are trends IWCO Direct is seeing in our business. My only quibble with that statement is that direct mail never left; its effectiveness is just now being discovered by a new generation of marketers.
Mascara and Romano also agreed that direct mail is relevant because it is the channel consumers prefer for receiving marketing messages. Mascara noted that because of data, direct mail has become much more targeted and relevant, and that targeting combined with high quality print drives interest and engagement from consumers.
Direct Mail Has the Power to Engage and Drive Omnichannel Success
Ron Gilboa reported observations from Keypoint Intelligence’s 2018 Annual State of Marketing Communications survey that included a “Zone of Opportunity” for paper-based communications, with about half of consumers reporting they were either more likely to read a printed direct mail piece or were as likely to look at direct mail as digital messaging.
A panel sponsored by Xplor on “Driving Your CCM Success with Workflow and Inkjet Technologies” looked at opportunities to integrate marketing and transactional mail with digital channels, noting that paper-based communications build value when coordinated with other channels. The panel observed that in an omnichannel marketing campaign, print is the “premium” channel that is augmented by electronic channels. Leveraging the flexibility of fully variable, full-color inkjet print allows marketers to create stronger calls-to-action (CTA) that will motivate recipients to continue their engagement with their brands through digital channels.
The panel also pointed out that although consumers expect all the latest technology for engaging with brands, they are also looking for safety, security, and transparency in those communications. The panel went on to note people have come to expect the same integrity in the security of their data used in direct mail pieces as they do with transactional communications. That’s why IWCO Direct places such a strong emphasis on data and physical security in our business model. (Be sure to check out the recent post from my colleague John Sobieck on adding a SOC 2 report to our suite of security certifications.)
Finally, a new feature of PRINT this year was Tech Walks—guided tours of the exhibit floor led by subject matter experts allowing deep dives into the various types of technology on display. I participated in the Inkjet Tech Walk led by Mary Schilling of Schilling Inkjet Consulting and editor of Inkjet Insights. It was a great overview of the latest developments in inkjet technology that gave me a better understanding of a growing part of IWCO Direct’s business. I hope this is a feature that’s continued at Brand Print Americas 2020 next year.
With all of this circling in our minds, we’re already looking forward to all the great new insights, advice, and projections for the print industry when PRINT 19 returns as Brand Print Americas 2020. We hope to see you there!