Can Social Media Friend Printing?

By | August 24, 2010

Printers! Take Your Mark! Get Set! GO!

. . . Or maybe I should be saying Marketers Take Your Mark. Either way, I’m seeing example after example of why printed communications need to become increasingly nimble to stay relevant in the marketing mix. I was inspired by a recent post from Pat Allen of Rock the Boat Marketing (and by the Old Spice Guy video embedded in the post)


According to Pat, “the tilt toward real-time communicating exposes what we believe to be the greatest weakness in investment product communicating: Reacting after the fact and on a delay.” While she is looking at the asset management industry through a marketing lens – you could easily point that same lens at print service providers and in-house shops. “The Old Spice guy work is an excellent demonstration of an emerging communications competency: the preparing to improvise, the organizing to be able to react in the moment to external stimulus,” says Pat.

Old Spice Guy says “Now I’m on a boat. Look in your hand. Look back at me. Now I’m on a ship. Look at your man. Look back at me. I’m on a horse.” Can your communications shift that quickly – and look that good doing it? (Phew!)

There have been several posts recently about combining print and other digital marketing channels. Most frequently referenced is putting PURLs on direct mail. You know what? That’s already old hat. PURLs provide an additional channel for the recipient, which is good, but it is not necessarily preparing the marketer to be able to  react quickly to external stimulus from social media sites, breaking news or other market activity.

We need to enable our print campaigns to launch on a dime in support of trends gleaned from online activity. Of course, we will want to communicate with people who are already online through online means – but why not extend the learning to be able to launch the same great message to the customers we know don’t use our online channels? Or simply reinforce the online message with a tangible printed campaign?

Allen cites a social media presentation by Matthew Guiste, category manager for social media at Starbucks and successful revenue-generating programs that involved a rapid exchange of information, internally and externally. Starbucks identified mini-trends from activity on Facebook and Twitter and worked quickly to syndicate that content across multiple other social media outlets. They could also have launched a direct mail campaign – but sadly – with the response times of most organizations today – not fast enough to ride the wave of the current trend.

For direct mail (and transactional communications) to gain a broader piece of the “social media response” pie it will need to be faster and more collaborative with what is now a social media silo. If the collaboration and rapid publishing tools can be put in place – with workflows that link social media monitoring, analytics, content management, approval and production approvals – social media can be a great friend to digital printing rather than a competitor.

So, look at your social media channels. Look back at me. Look at your direct mail. Look back at me. Anything is possible. I’m on a plane (Seriously, I am.)

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4 thoughts on “Can Social Media Friend Printing?

  1. Pat Allen

    Hello Elizabeth, I appreciate the shout-out to my blog post and agree wholeheartedly with your point that print can reinforce an online message.

    As a matter of fact, early last year I remember being so impressed when someone I started to follow on Twitter immediately mailed me a note using the Enthusem system. My new friend stood out because of the offline channel touch–and because the note arrived about 1 day later.

  2. Elizabeth

    I’m in Lake Como right now and I think the Old Spice guy must have seen the post. He’s everywhere! Shout out to the Spice too.

    Thanks Pat. Keep the great posts coming from Chicagoland.

  3. Margie Dana

    Hi, Elizabeth –

    You make an excellent point in this blog. Print needs to be as nimble and immediate as online media – and link with social media. It’s an exciting challenge to be a part of. The Old Spice ad campaign is the perfect analogy!

    PS: Spent part of our honeymoon at Villa D’Este on Lake Como. Heaven on earth, isn’t it?!!

  4. Buzz Tatom

    Print has to be nimble. Use Social Media to your advantage we have close to 1000 fans on our Facebook page and can incorporate that with many other channels to run campaigns and contests. In the long run our name comes across many more people due to social media.

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