Print vs digital is the wrong question

Old Hay Wagon

Image by Marion Doss via Flickr

I was recently asked for some simple practical tips that business owners could take to “strike an effective balance between print and digital.” I think that’s the wrong question.

The real issue is how will organizations thrive in a changing environment. Here’s is how I responded:

Examine all marketing, whether print or digital, from a perspective of viability and importance.

It will be difficult to gauge importance without doing some diligent research into which media and specific pieces actually drive sales. For many businesses, learning to do this will be enough to work on as a starting point.

Determining viability is much easier: do you have the in-house skills to create and evaluate good digital work? How about good print work? What evidence exists to support your conclusions? Here again it is likely that new skills will need to be acquired (through learning, hiring or successful partnerships).

This issue of the need to acquire new skills (either to evaluate importance or to determine viability) is not limited to small organizations. It is prevalent across all sizes of companies I encounter. In addition, it isn’t a problem that is confined to entry-level workers or job seekers–in many cases it is company leadership which needs this sort of honest learning the most.

We’re in the midst of an economic shift that is much like the shift from agrarian economies to industrial economies. It isn’t about whether something is digital or print. It’s about how the data flows and how an organization is going to thrive in an environment of increasing change.

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