How Your Print Buyers’ Needs Are Changing And How To Add Value Amidst Digital Fatigue

By Head of Marketing at Canon South AfricaJimmy De Waal

Despite 46% of marketing budgets being dedicated to digital media, nearly 50% of brands are using print frequently in their campaigns[1]. With digital fatigue amongst consumers continuing to grow in light of recent global events, now is the time for print to step into the spotlight.

But while marketers are keen to capitalise on the cut-through value that printed communications bring to the table, they’re looking for more guidance from their print service providers (PSPs). They want creative ideas that they haven’t considered, approaches targeted to their customers’ preferences and advice on how to deliver ROI.

A clear opportunity exists for PSPs to build a more consultative relationship with their customers. By listening more closely to the needs of your print buyers, you can move beyond having a transactional conversation about the brief.

Marketers want your expertise; they are keen to be shown how to make the print elements of their campaigns more impactful and effective. By coaching your customers on how to achieve a better return on their print investment, you’ll cement the relationship and attract more repeat business. And by adding value that translates to better commercial outcomes for them, you have a chance to escape the commodity pricing trap and command higher margins.

Demonstrating print’s value

Today’s communication buyers want more innovative marketing strategies. They’re looking for fresh ideas that will impact their target audience, while using a mix of technologies that seamlessly move consumers between online and offline worlds. But they openly admit to lacking some of the skills and resources they need to do this in-house.

This is where the opportunity for you lies – actively work with your customers to find the creative solutions they need and to support them with ideas on how to integrate print more effectively within their wider campaigns. It’s time to be multi-channel. Help them to understand print’s role in the customer journey, demonstrating its place in the context of an omni-channel campaign and the value it can deliver against investment. Highlight the many touchpoints where different printed formats can complement their digital activity.

With creativity at the heart of marketing campaigns, print is just one way that brands can differentiate themselves from others. Show your customers how you can make their marketing stand-out by using a variety of textures and finishes, something digital media can’t offer. The door is wide open to offer imaginative print solutions to help them get noticed.

But what’s even more important to your buyer is that you’re accountable. Be ready to help your customer prove print’s ROI in commercial terms, linking it to their business goals. By shining a light on other integrated campaigns you’ve worked on, you will illustrate how you can easily help them connect print and digital media and enhance the customer journey.

Another way you can add value and maximise impact is to include the use of innovative digital technologies such as augmented reality (AR). Brands are forever on the look-out for new ways of using technology in their marketing campaigns in the hope of engaging prospects and driving them into a customer journey where they can be tracked and nurtured as a lead. You need to speak the same language as your customers, so it’s worth investing time to really understand the touchpoints where print can act as a gateway to digital.

Build your knowledge of the devices – from QR codes to embedded codes linking to AR content – that can be incorporated into printed marketing assets to prompt customers towards mobile and online experiences. Over time, by growing your expertise in this area, you have the potential to add measurable creative and commercial value for your customers and change the dynamics of the relationship to one where you are a creative partner, not only a supplier.

Group Joos, a Canon customer in Belgium, has found just that. Business owner Alex Joos told us: “Over the last five years we’ve introduced the use of augmented reality with personalised print. The growth of this market is quite slow, however, offering these new technologies has changed the perception of us as a business. It shows that we can advise and think further than just print. This is where all PSPs need to be. They need to educate and show their customers print’s true potential.”

Seeing the value beyond print

Print is your bread and butter, so focus on the qualities it has that digital is often missing, like its visual, emotional and tactile impact. If brands want to make a statement or convey quality, then printed communication is the way to go. You need to be confident and champion its advantages.

It’s clear that print buyers want you to be more consultative and proactive, asking questions to understand their brief. By becoming familiar with their commercial objectives, you will be able to see where you can offer added value services and solutions. So, get under the skin of their campaigns and seek to understand their wider marketing strategy and performance metrics. This proactivity will set you apart.

You want your customers to see you as a collaborative, trusted advisor and for them to approach you for ideas and information, not simply just bringing you orders. By getting in front of them and demonstrating your creative skills and ability to maximise campaign effectiveness, you have a chance to pull their focus away from digital media and back to print.

Adding unexpected value and stretching the boundaries of your customer conversations, you’ll set your business apart from the rest and keep the growth opportunities coming. Don’t wait and become complacent. Now is the time to close the gap between what your customers want and what you deliver.

[1] Canon Europe Insight Report,