The printing industry has had it pretty rough over the past decade. Many paper distributors and established companies understand the value of print and are able to see, very clearly, how and why it is here to stay. But, in most industries, the digital revolution that has swept across the globe has created a distinct set of challenges and changes for organizations, forcing them to tweak operations and adjust their traditional approaches to business and marketing.
And, while the rapid proliferation of digital devices and accelerating advancement of technological innovations have, at least at times, stumped many companies as to how they can and should navigate the electronic environment to best serve their customers, the printing industry has faced a significant amount of difficulty. The problem is that too many people falsely assume that paper products are no longer needed and that it is only a matter of time before anything and everything we do will be done through a screen. It is impossible to say whether that will one day be the case, but it certainly is not the reality of today.
Both distributors and buyers would benefit from a more accurate picture of the modern print market. Business executives are not doing anyone any favors by waving off the value of paper products, least of all themselves. This is why it is important to clear up some of the common misconceived notions about the printing industry.
1. It is destroying our planet
Some people argue that paper should be ushered out of the business world because, in their minds, printing is the equivalent of recklessly eliminating forests. But what many fail to realize is that paper is a renewable source; it can be recycled. Instead of trying to replace company processes and transactions that are still heavily reliant on printed forms and documents with digital alternatives, organizations can simply switch to paper stock made from recycled materials. There are even sustainability forest groups dedicated to the responsible sourcing of these products.
It should also be noted that when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint, digital may not be the all-in-one solution, since it, too, can have an impact on the environment. The Huffington Post contributor the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies revealed that Swedish researchers conducted a study which indicated, "if you're an avid reader who spends more than 30 minutes a day reading the news, the print edition results in a lower environmental impact than reading online (28 kilograms of CO2 per year, per person for print versus 35 kilograms per year, per person for online reading)."
2. Paper is ineffective
With an increasingly number of digital devices making their way into the hands of consumers, many businesses assume that the best way to get their attention is through an electronic channel. And in some cases, they aren't necessarily wrong. But just because online platforms have gained popularity as a way to distribute marketing materials, that does not mean print products have lost their effectiveness.
Earlier this year, Print Week reported that researchers discovered that the number of people who believe print ads are a good way for businesses to communicate with them is on the rise. Because most organizations are focusing on digital selling and communications, it is leaving the print advertising market less competitive. Marketers actually gain a distinct advantage by targeting customers with paper products because they don't engage with these physical items nearly as often as they do content online. It is harder to overlook a piece of direct mail, for example, when it is in your hands than it would be to ignore just another message that you scroll by on the screen of a mobile device.
As we have covered before, studies have shown that people today, including younger generations, actually prefer print materials in certain situations, such as when they are reading a book or learning new information. It is hard to argue that the printing industry will soon cease to exist when individuals making up new age groups, even the ones who grew up with the internet, are choosing it over digital.
3. It's too expensive
If a business cites high costs as one of its top reasons for abandoning paper products, it is safe to assume that organization has not worked with the right print provider. Partnering with a solutions company that uses the best-in-class equipment and processes, such as online distributor portals for automated ordering, inventory and warehouse management and mobile-enabled print-on-demand functions. The printing industry has not neglected the adoption of digital technologies but, rather, has found a way to leverage the innovations to enhance its offerings. One does not need to choose paper over digital; organizations just need to realize how they can be effectively combined in a way that facilitates success.
The idea that printing is too expensive for businesses today to bother with is wildly untrue, especially considering that working with the right firm can actually lead to improved production workflow, quicker delivery and enhanced customer service.
Is it possible for a company to operate completely without any paper goods? Sure. But would a paperless office be an effective, secure or efficient way to run a business? Probably not.
Combining all the reasons listed above, it is obvious why the biggest misconception of all – that the print is a dying industry – does not hold any real value or weight. Print products will continue to be a necessary commodity in a wide range of markets for many years to come.