If you thought print was fading out, think again. As more and more information goes digital, the printing industry is evolving to offer more impact at lower production costs. This is leveling the playing field for smaller businesses, allowing them to reach their target markets with tangible materials that stand out above the Internet’s white noise.
Here’s a look at five trends that are changing the way you should communicate with customers:
1. Digital printing. For decades, professional printing required an expensive printing press. That’s no longer the case. With the right digital printer, small businesses can produce marketing materials that rival large corporations for a fraction of the cost. A study conducted by print giant Xerox showed digital printing has gained a substantial leg up on lithography, owning 45 percent on the market in 2012 and growing another 30 percent by 2014. According to a study from Smithers Pira, spending on digital printing is projected to grow from $131.5 billion in 2013 to $187.7 billion by 2018.
2. Customised products. Lower costs mean you no longer have to mass-produce generic materials. Instead of printing a single brochure you distribute to everyone, you can craft your message for specific groups. If your business offers group sales and special events, you should have mailings and brochures that outline them. Even better, create separate brochures designed especially for church youth groups, school groups and companies. Each is looking for something different from your business, and you need to show them you can meet their needs accordingly. Using variable data, such as unique graphics, names, addresses and photos for each recipient, can help personalise direct mailings, making potential customers more likely to open them.
3. New materials. Professional printing companies can offer a variety of textures and finishes that will make your handouts irresistible to the touch. You may want to consider using heavier paper or recyclable materials, even scrapping traditional paper altogether in favor of cardboard, plastic, foil or fabric depending on the look you want to achieve. Using die-cutting to create intriguing shapes or pop-ups can elevate standard invitations into desktop decorations, even standalone forms of art. When appropriate, try using specialty inks such as metallic or fluorescent varieties. If you’re distributing a catalog, you may want to try a soft finish that gives pages a velvety texture, making them easier to turn.
4. Image-oriented design. You need only to glance at Instagram to see photos are quickly becoming the most popular way to communicate ideas and connect with others. Searches for filtered images soared 661 percent in 2013, according to data from image library Shutterstock, which analysed its most searched resources from the past year. Not surprisingly, people are most interested in photos of other people and real-life subjects. Businesses can use this to their advantage with well-designed materials that make the most of images and infographics that explain what they do in fewer words. Successfully executing this approach requires a top-quality printer that will bring your subjects to life on the page. If the standard printer at your small business isn’t equipped to do the job, you need a professional printing service that can produce your materials quickly and affordably.
5. 3D Printing. It has been called the Third Industrial Revolution, and for good reason— three-dimensional printing is poised to forever change the way businesses access products and supplies. Although the industry will need to overcome a number of barriers to become mainstream— including better computer processing power and storage capacity, better energy efficiency and increased affordability— it has the potential to transform nearly every sector of the economy. In the not-so-distant future, possibly as early as 20 years from now, global media company 3D Printing Industry predicts manufacturers could produce their own parts, rather than sourcing them. Retail stores could design and produce more goods in-house, rather than buying them abroad. The ability to print human tissue within the medical community could revolutionise research and health care as we know it. The United States had nearly 1,600 3D printing patents pending in 2013, more than any other country, according to the U.K. Intellectual Property Office. It may be too costly to use for widespread applications now, but businesses can begin to get ahead of the curve by looking into areas where it might make sense, such as producing their own marketing materials.
Help your business keep up with the latest printing trends and put out quality products efficiently and affordably by visiting Print Shop by Harvey Norman.