Print is dead, long live print

As a product aiming to disrupt the tradition surrounding the prospectus, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were advocating the death of print. But we want to go on record saying this isn’t the case. We love print, but we think there’s a better way for todays audiences.

Back when Nathan and I started our first business, SMILE, we had just graduated from university. At the height of the 2009 recession, jobs were scarce and we had nothing to lose. So we decided to make our own jobs by starting a branding and print agency. Afterall, these were the specialisms we’d be training for at university.

It didn’t take us long to learn that print jobs (especially during the recession) were hard to come across and often came with little to no budget. Fortunately, our skills were transferable and we soon found ourselves working on digital-first projects. But we always maintained our love for print – from choosing the perfect stock and print finishes to the smell of a fresh print run.

So no, we don’t want to see the end of print. But when it comes to the prospectus, we think there’s a better way. A more relevant and personalised experience that helps the user find the information they’re craving and empowers the institution by giving them the tools and insight to enhance the content on offer and the journey a prospect takes towards enrolment.

On our podcast (Most Clicked) we produced an episode on the most popular brands with Gen A. You could probably guess most of them (they included Amazon, Apple and Netflix). What all of them had in common is they are digital-first. None of them use print materials to communicate with their target audience. And if it works for these global consumer superpowers, it will work for you too.

We still believe there is a place for print. But the expectation from youth audiences is digital-first, print second. Educational organisations should adopt the same thinking when it comes to their prospectus. 

We understand there’s some nervousness around the switch to a digital first prospectus, but we’ve already helped a handful of institutions to build a transition plan. Some have jumped right in and seen great success. Others have cut print runs right down to give them time to assess the impact. And others have even re-used the saved budget to do something really cool. One of my personal favourites was a university who considered giving out on-brand slushies (taking ownership of their colour gradient) to prospects attending university fairs. The only downside will be trying to get through the queue of people at your stand!

Matt Lees
Matt Lees

Co-founder at SMILE and Prospectus Plus.

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