Small but perfectly formed: how to use print in the social age

 This guest post is written by 2016-2017  IMC candidate Morag Thornton. It talks about a tour the class took recently that opened a few eyes about the value of print.

I love print. I love gorgeous textures and beautiful words and images that are cleverly and simply designed to be fit for purpose. I like working collaboratively with designers to make marketing and communications materials that make their users say “Wow!”

p1010643So when the Integrated Marketing Communications program at Conestoga College visited Cober Evolving Solutions in Kitchener, Ontario a couple of weeks ago, VP and fourth generation owner Todd Cober was already preaching to at least one of the converted when he extolled the virtues of print.

p1010632Until a few years ago, Cober was a straightforward printing company, but they saw digital coming and instead of carrying on being a very successful print supplier to their customers, they set up an agency right inside their business and essentially transformed themselves into marketing and communications consultants.

It’s working: at any one time, they will have 1200+ jobs on the go. As we toured the state-of-the-art plant in the south of the City, projects for major Canadian organizations in various stages of production lined the safety walkways like a visual who’s who of this country’s commercial landscape.

But even a long-time print lover learned to do a few things differently:

1.  Talk to your printer first. Todd shared the example of a client who requested a print run of 250,000 postcards to be sent to every senior secondary school student within a particular radius. Even though this was a nice print job, Cober pushed back and asked “Why? What do you want to achieve?”. Instead, they conducted research, targeted the audience that the client really wanted, and sent a comprehensive package to that smaller audience. In future, I will be speaking with my printer at the very beginning of my project.

   2.   Think small for big results. Cober is beginning to work with clients on specifically targeted – and tailored – digital print products. Instead of running off a couple of thousand general brochures, they will work with clients on identifying smaller, select audiences and creating almost individualized materials that relate to their specific interests and concerns. Actual print runs are smaller and less expensive, so that it is possible to use more interesting and innovative materials, and to ‘wow’ that target audience or market.

3.     About those trees… I love print, but I also love trees. Any of us working in offices today shudder to see drafts and drafts that end up in the recycling bin. Sometimes it seems as though the only solution is to abandon print altogether. Todd, however,  says that at the point where you read an email more than once the hardware, software, electricity and overheads required makes it less carbon-efficient than a piece of printed, recycled paper. Opinions are mixed, but basic research confirms paper is the most recycled and sustainable resource in the world, and there are significant concerns about the global rise of  electronic waste. You can make up your own mind:

Happy printing!

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