We learn how life is in constant flux and change early in life. The token example is of this metamorphosis is the different life stages of a butterfly. In grade school we learn that a butterfly starts off in life as a caterpillar, moves on to a pupa before finally becoming a butterfly.
Metamorphosis is defined as a profound and complete change. Such state altering change happens regularly to business but ever so often, when conditions are right, strikes an entire industry. The change is more often an external pressure than one that came from within. Digitization of content combined with the distributive force of the Internet has caused massive upheaval for more than one industry, if not all industries.
Dr. Joe Webb’s recent post On the Wrong Side of Creative Destruction: Now What? (highly recommended reading) reminded me of how these forces have impacted the graphic arts industry. He goes on to give a few compelling, instructive ways for print service providers to morph into a profoundly different direction:
- The need for young people in print organizations is oft-repeated and needs to be repeated until the situation changes. Dr. Joe says, “All these years, while we were lamenting the fall in graphic arts enrollment, our future employees opted for digital media.” Look around your next industry event and I think you will find that he is correct.
- Although most still consider print a mass medium, Dr. Joe says that we should come to the realization that print is now a specialty medium. I think the printed word still offers tremendous authority and reach, I do agree that the audience has splintered and will continue to evolve into a thousand niches. On the flip side, advertisers have certainly thrown the lion share of their budgets at anything-digital-that-is-bright-and-shiny.
- Continuing on the higher theme of transitioning to a “marketing service provider”, Dr. Joe asks printers to change their business model from one of job-to-job manufacturing to one of a continuous communication platform. The logic is sound. Get away from low margins and one-off transactions to more of a retainer type service model ala advertising agency. Most any business, however, has a hard time shedding its old skin when it comes to this type of structural and cultural change. It can be done, but the path is neither easy nor short.
Do you think print is now a specialty medium? If so, how does that change your business?
photo credit: pablogrb