Print’s not dead, it just deserves to die…

… when it becomes another stale cartoon
A close-minded, self-centered social club
Ideas don’t matter, it’s who you know.

With apologies to the Dead Kennedys.

You’d be excused for thinking the same. With every internet development shop and SEO consultant crowing from the roof tops about the death of print, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush to the internet for absolutely every marketing need.

However, we’re currently caught up in a massive wave of print design and production. The vast majority are for post-secondary education institutions with a few pieces for our industrial clients as well as NSBI. We’re doing print annual reports, Viewbooks, posters, brochures and more. The difference between today’s print work and that of the last decade is that virtually everything is geared towards driving traffic to the website for more information, social media conversations, user-submitted photo and video content and more. It’s no longer the ‘destination’ marketing piece. It’s the road sign leading to the visitors’ centre.

But, there’s lots of things that are much better in print than they are online. Course Calendars for Colleges and Universities are one thing you want to be able to pore over again and again, make notes in the margins, tear out pages and so on. Granted, it’s hard to share a print Viewbook with all your Facebook buddies to show them what you’ll be taking this semester, but that’s why the integration of print and web are so essential.

We’ve been using a number of techniques to make print documents more useful to our client’s customers and user base. We use short ‘speaking’ URL redirects to point the print document readers to the exact location for more info on the web. We’re creating mini sites that house compendiums of links to all the content on the main site of interest to the specific audience. These will be rolled into the main site as the sites are redeveloped to be more user-friendly. Many clients are in the midst of redesigns or revamping their corporate sites and this will help users. Once people get to these sites, we’re using sharing tools to enable people to easily pass the pages on to friends and social media contacts.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a great interim step until we figure out exactly how to stop using print materials completely. As much as I still love the smell of a recently printed kit folder, as a society, we need to reduce our dependence on these documents, and many forward-looking institutions see this as a first step.

How are you making print work for you? How are you integrating it into your overall strategy?

Previously posted on

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