We released our first video a couple of weeks ago. It’s a “virtual tour” - a look at our plant, equipment, staff and production capabilities and it clocks in at a neat seven minutes and twenty-three seconds. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for years and finally got around to. The impetus was a talented young director, Sara Robin with whom I worked on a music video in my other professional life. Sara and I are a good team and we came up with a concept which she executed extremely well along with her crew, Kellen Ryan and Yahna Harris. All of them either attend or are graduates of the Boston University Graduate School of Film.
Elite is certainly not the first company of its kind to use video for promotional purposes. Video is now required to sell or promote pretty much anything. It’s a vital part of the “quality content” which marketers insist upon in order to give a company the best chance to penetrate the public consciousness with its brand. Like it or not, we live in a visual world. Ironically, the public’s insatiable demand for video content is one of the things that has contributed to shrinking the print and envelope markets. So, an envelope converter and cold web printer producing a promotional video might seem to some as “sleeping with the enemy”.
One of the recurring themes of this blog is the need for those of us in print, envelopes and direct mail to enthusiastically embrace the digital world. I find that some in our industry seem to harbor a grudge against the technology they see as being responsible for the smaller and more competitive market. They seem to relish being late adopters, almost as a badge of honor and resistance to trends they see as working to their disadvantage. While I sympathize with the sentiment, I don’t see the sense in it. The internet has made people less dependent on the mail. But while I yield to no one in my belief that print on paper can often deliver a message with greater impact than moving images on a screen, we need to acknowledge that there’s more than one way to do things. We also need to acknowledge that one of the reasons digital messages have become so popular is they are convenient and inexpensive. They allow us to do more in less time.
Not much more than twenty years ago, most of us in print sales were using pagers (or “beepers” as we called them) to receive notices from the office that someone had called us. The next step was to find a payphone, pull over and park, grab a bunch of coins and make the return call. Anyone want to make the argument that a cell phone is not superior to that scenario? So, you have to take the good with the bad. But the neat trick is to use the “bad” to make us more productive. In other words, you can bemoan the fact that “everyone” would rather see a video rather than read a message on paper or you can use a video to promote the message that reading on paper can be pretty cool and quite effective in selling your products and services.
Those of us in the print, envelope, paper and mail businesses are now in the position of swimming against the tide. This sea-change (sorry!) is a relatively recent development and has happened quickly – mostly in the past two decades. Whereas in the past our main job was to compete in the market, we now must sell the value of what we do as well as increase our share of a smaller market. We also have to deal with the widely-held belief that printing on paper is somehow bad for the environment; a bogus claim that is easily countered but not without additional effort.
In order to ensure the viability of our business, we have to make our case as broadly as possible. Using online video as well as the many other technical marvels of our age will help us do that. The timeless messages that are delivered in print are worth communicating in any fashion.