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16 March 2011

Miscellaneous

My Afternoon Trip to the Printers

This is what I like about my job; people say 'Phil, do you want to come have a look at how this works?' I never say no.

It's great that I always go and have a look at what other people get up to and today's no exception - today I am off to visit a printing company in Derby. I am going to have a tour around the place and understand what goes into running a printing company.

Now, I am doing this, not just to waste a Friday afternoon driving up the M1, but also because there's been a big change in the way people and clients of ours market their companies. Long gone are the traditional forms of marketing, or are they?  Anyway, hopefully my trip will answer the question.

After returning from the printers I sat down in front of my computer and it was all just a little bit of a blur, too much to take in. For starters the place was a lot larger than I had imagined it to be. But my quest was to see what goes on inside a printing workshop, so that's what I did, I had a tour.

When I walked into the printing area I was shocked by the size of the machines. They were huge and the price tags that were on them were just as large: £1.6 million for the largest of the printers. One thing I didn't realise was that there are two different types of printers used: the traditional Offset Litho Printer and the modern digital printers.

Litho Printers are still used for the majority of printing work due to their efficiency and high quality. A litho printer uses the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water. It produces cost-effective, high quality print. Something which digital print is still not able to beat as yet, but digital print is creeping up on the more traditional methods. Like everything, the digital age is dominating. Litho printing has been around since the late nineteenth century - but it can't cope with the quality and convenience that digital print is beginning to offer.

I posed the question to my guide about the situation with traditional forms of marketing and more modern forms like email marketing. It was interesting to point out that he had the same feelings that I did on the subject; in order to have a successful marketing structure you need to incorporate both traditional and modern forms together.

People like to feel and touch a brochure, and when printers are still getting around 15,000 sheets per hour out to their customers, it shows there is still a demand for print. The thing I like about a well-designed, high quality brochure is the fact that it's so easy to pass on to other people. This is where the tag team of email marketing and print shows its muscle. You can provide more information to people via an email newsletter, which holds other news, information and links to other websites, backed up by a printed newsletter that people can sit and read on their lunch breaks with a coffee. Joined up email and print marketing are a recipe for success.

Don't get me wrong though, in the past decade the printing industry has really taken a battering by the digital world, in cases where 10 years ago clients were after 10,000 brochures they are after 5,000 - but printers are reacting to changes, there will always be a need for print, and it's a credit to them that they have adapted rather than admitting defeat.

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