Navigating the Changing Landscape of Print

Change is everywhere. From how we order groceries, to how we get around, to how we access information . . . our entire lives are saturated in change. I think of these as structural changes in our day-to-day living.

But there’s also the human aspect – changes in culture, or how we live our lives, or what is acceptable today that was taboo even ten years ago.

Shifts happen when new generations come along, due to different levels of life experience and the perpetual evolution of culture. At my age, I have a long history of experiences – both successes and failures – to draw from. A recent college graduate or student out of high school, however, would have a completely different perspective on what change is and what it means to people of their generation.

In the printing industry, there’s a lot of bellyaching about how things are changing. Printers complain that customers aren’t buying envelopes and letterheads anymore. People are printing business cards on a home printer, or ordering online for next to nothing. We even had a request come in the other day from a customer, saying that they didn’t care what the cards looked like as long as they were cheap!

My point is that no matter what business you’re in, you not only have to accept change, you also have to be prepared to embrace it. Whether it’s in the realm of employees, technology, demand for products, or customer expectations, if you want to survive you have to be able to adapt and evolve. Otherwise, you and your business will become a memory.

That said, adapting and evolving doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out all the old ways – it’s being smart enough to know what works best in any given context. We can fulfill orders the same day, because we have the technology that makes it possible. We tackle difficult jobs, because unlike an online printer, we don’t have narrow guardrails that every job has to stay within. Any order, no matter how small or specific, is appreciated.

There is no substitute for good old-fashioned human interaction, though. Although we have the ability for customers to order online, we also have a live person answering the phone. We like to talk to customers, get a feel for their needs and requirements, and have real conversations. Customers notice this, too. We got an email this week from a graphic artist who is a frequent customer. One of their clients insisted on using another printer for a particular job, and the printer did not even acknowledge that the art had been received. The job was delivered to the client without any communication at all with the graphic artist. The client, needless to say, was not impressed.

Too many businesses equate efficiency with simply getting things done quickly, but customers expect and deserve more than that.

Change is a good thing, and nothing to be afraid of . . . but you have to be smart about it. We aim to stay on the edge of technological changes in our industry, while retaining the traditional values of service that let customers know we care. It’s a balance that we strive for with every order that comes in.