It’s been a wild ride for sure.
Shortly after acquiring ownership of the company in 2008, the economy tanked. My business partner and I were nervous to say the least —we had just made this huge investment, and all of sudden we were faced with the possibility of losing our shirts before we even got started. Thankfully, we survived the recession, but that experience was a turning point for us. We knew that we had to change our strategy if we expected to be in business 20 years from now. The recession gave us a real sense of urgency.
We noticed that the demand for print was dwindling, and that more and more media outlets were moving their print resources to digital. We saw the future: Print had to expand beyond mere ink on paper. It had to also exist in digital space in order to have value in a digitally connected world. As a vendor, we needed to figure out how to bring print and digital assets together in such a way that added true value to our customers.
Apps were the game-changer for us.
Taking advantage of this popular trend, we quickly saw a need that we could fill: providing our customers print and digital content management that was mobile-accessible, all under one roof. We chose to make event apps and interactive print (which uses augmented reality (AR)) as part of our core offerings.
With event apps, we could take all the material normally printed and assembled into huge binders for distribution at major business and trade events, and store them into a simple app on your smartphone that you can carry around in your back pocket! (We call this our PI ShowApp Solution.)
AR technology lets us incorporate virtual content into printed pieces. Scanning these “enhanced” flyers, brochures, etc with your smartphone (using our free app) displays this virtual content which you can interact with such as video, music, weblinks and more. (We’ve aptly named this our “Printeractive” services.)
Initially, none of our sales force believed that this would fit into our business model. But we were determined. We knew that we were onto something that no one (in our area) was doing with the business. We were breaking new ground, we would be the first. So we created a new division called PI Interactive Solutions to promote these services, and the response has been a huge positive for us! It’s gotten us in a lot of doors that were once nearly impossible to get through with just print alone. And the tie-in for print is just phenomenal.
For our clients, this addition has been a tremendous time-savings. Since we were already handling their print assets, it made it so much easier for clients to explore our digital content management resources without the pressure associated with such investments. We had done all the legwork, so we could answer any questions they may have. Plus, being their printer we had already established a relationship built on trust.
You know that saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?” Well, the recession showed us some hard truths about our industry. We saw this as an opportunity for us, a way of breathing new life into print. And it’s working. We still have a ways to go before we truly can take stock of our ROI, but we feel it’s the future of print. and that we’re headed in the right direction.
Print is not dead, it’s evolving. And we need to evolve with it.
Bill Leishear, Vice President, Printing Images, Inc.
12266 Wilkins Ave Rockville, MD 20852