Graphic Media Alliance

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The Why

Source: Michael Pallerino, CANVAS Magazine, Winter 2021-2022

During a recent webinar, “How to Succeed in the Era of Human-to-Human,” a panel of marketing professionals spearheaded by platform firm Sendoso, discussed the need for B2B customer-facing teams to create personalized, consumer-like experiences. Still reeling from nearly two years of virtual and digital fatigue brought on by an unprecedented global pandemic, the panelists shared the importance of human-to-human engagements.

The webinar was inspired by Sendoso’s “2021 State of Sending” survey of B2B marketers, salespeople and customer experience decision- makers. One of the survey’s more interesting revelations showed that 92% of respondents said virtual meetings, events, webinars and conferences needed to be more personalized and interactive to be effective over the next 12 months. In addition, 90% agreed that building a personal or human connection with their buyers and customers has become even more important  to closing sales since March 2020—the beginning of the pandemic-inspired lockdowns.

Adam Silk could not agree more. As President of Digital Print Solutions, like everyone else, his company was forced to change everything about how they conducted business. Living in a noncontact world, everything went virtual— trade shows, seminars, conferences and networking events. It was more than Silk and his industry colleagues could take, initially not knowing when, and if, things would ever get back to some sense of normalcy.

As a long-time industry supporter—serving on several industry association boards over the years—Silk knew that something, somewhere along the way would have to turn, especially on the trade show side. The once vaunted epicenter where thousands of people could seamlessly wade through exhibit halls and conference rooms, perhaps no segment took a bigger hit than the trade show market. A once much relied upon source of lead generation, new business opportunities and overall industry merriment, trade shows came to a screaming halt. According to consumer data firm Statista, the B2B trade show market in the United States was worth $15.58 billion (US) in 2019. In 2020, the segment declined abruptly to $5.6 billion.

Ask Silk and he will tell you that more than anything else, people in the print industry love to talk shop. More than that, they love to talk shop in person. They love being on a trade show floor, learning in a seminar setting or relishing in the one-on-one engagements of a networking related event. From a human perspective, people love being face to face with colleagues who share the same interests and desires. “Building relationships, being around people and seeing the products and services they have to offer up close, is a human need. When you are not able to be a part of a group outing or event, you really get a sense of what you are missing. It is energizing to have that human contact.”

Silk is hoping that America’s PRINT Show (APS22)—scheduled for Aug. 17-19 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio—will help restore all that the print industry is missing— and more. As a board member (including Past Chair) of the Graphic Media Alliance, and a sponsor of APS22, Silk believes the show will be a step toward normalcy in a time when the concept of normalcy still seems a bit far-fetched. The three-day event will be focused on building connections and growth by bringing together regional and national associations representing 5,000-plus companies, including commercial printers, screen and garment producers, large format and sign printers, binderies and graphic finishers, along with industry suppliers.

“The trade show is so critical,” Silk says. “It enables us to meet with and sell to a much broader scope of people. It allows us to engage in the kind of relationship building our industry needs, especially today. This type of gathering is what we have all really missed dramatically over the last two years. APS22 is all about the people and the complex issues they face every day in our industry. The show gives them the opportunity to gather and engage in thoughtful and solutions-focused conversations on a broad array of topics.”

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