If your print shop or sign shop offers both graphic design and print services, your customers may soon expect more than graphic design. While print-shop graphic designers are adept at projects such as marketing collateral, billboards, vehicle wraps, wall murals, trade show graphics, labels, packages, or banners, they may soon be asked to work on projects that connect these printed graphics to digital content.
With advanced forms of digital watermarks embedded in printed images, users of smartphones will be able to access online videos, web pages, or augmented reality content. (Augmented reality superimposes digital content over the real-world environment when viewed through a smartphone.)
The ability to connect print with digital content requires higher levels of creative thinking. To avoid disappointing viewers, the connected digital content must be just as impactful as the visuals in printed graphics. So, most designers should learn how to design for both print and multimedia digital communications.
Hire and Retain Creative Technologists
One way to prepare for the future of design and print services is to cultivate or hire creative technologists.
In advertising agencies, a creative technologist is defined as someone who understands both the creative process and the digital technologies required to execute complex ideas. During the transition to digital and mobile marketing, that meant a designer who knows how to write code.
But most print shops also employ people who know how to overcome technical obstacles to execute creative concepts. During the transformation from analog to digital printing, many print-service providers have resolved problems related to variable-data, personalized printing, multi-channel marketing, and maintaining consistent brand colors in all forms of online and printed communications. And the technical challenges show no signs of slowing down.
Like marketing agencies, print shops have been in a constant state of change for at least the past 10 years. Collaboration with IT professionals has been critical to the success of both marketing agencies and digital print shops.
So even if your designers or production managers don’t officially describe themselves as “creative technologists,” their ability to find new ways to execute creative projects is quite valuable. As a manager, encourage them to continue to learn new skills, tackle challenging assignments, and help clients innovate different solutions.
Automate Everyday Work
One way to allow creative technologists to flourish is to automate as much of your routine day-to-day operations as possible.
For example, instead of chasing down proof approvals or correcting files in prepress, your graphic design and production staff can spend more time educating clients or proposing innovative ideas. Your staff will also need time to learn about connected print technologies that can bring signs, print ads, marketing collateral, packaging, and labels to life.
In order to win business from high-value clients, your design and production staff may need to show some original concepts related to experiential marketing or connected print.
Demonstrating these talents can help distinguish your print shop from competitors that focus solely on attracting clients with tight budgets for printing.
Yes, you will still need to offer accurate, competitive pricing on every printed piece your output. But some profits can come from your shop’s ability to help marketing professionals execute technologically challenging projects.
Don’t be shy about promoting the fact that your print shop employs its own brand of creative technologists. Anything your staff can do to make it easier for your clients to execute complex multi-channel marketing projects will set your shop apart.
Creative Technologists Must Adapt
The role of a creative technologist is fluid by definition. As technology continues to advance, the job of creative technologist evolves too. One creative technologist promotes himself as a “start-up entrepreneur in residence” at his agency. A staffing expert compares creative technologists to “makers” who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and push the limits of what
can be achieved.
If you aren’t yet sure how automation can free your staff to tackle more technologically challenging tasks, schedule a demonstration of Ordant software.
Ordant's easy-to-use print-shop management system makes it easy to estimate jobs, manage orders, track proof approvals and job status, and maintain customer data. This means that you and your staff can spend less time chasing down details and managing repetitive work and more time on creative technology projects that can help your shop earn a stellar reputation for both your printing and design services.