Jules Van Sant is a partner at Bubble & Hatch, a marketing firm specializing in the print and paper industry. Her career has spanned the gamut of the communications spectrum, giving her a well-rounded perspective in marketing. She started her career working in traffic, print production and account management positions on the west coast with advertising agencies as well as graphic arts firms. For 13 years she held the role of executive director of the Printing Industries of America affiliate in the Northwest.
Her high-profile presence on national task forces, committees, and industry networking initiatives, plus her business and marketing acumen, positions her as a leader. She is an inspiration catalyst for the print and visual communications industry as chairperson of the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation. We sat down and asked her about her multiple perspectives on the business and her view of America’s Print Show 2022.
We cannot over promise and under deliver. That is why we must constantly revisit that connection with our clients so we always know what’s important to them.Jules Van Sant
What has changed in the agency world from your perspective?
The agency world has changed dramatically over 20 years. Gone are the days of the big media budgets, which laid the groundwork for most of the creative work that got done. Today, it’s really all about content. It’s about brand storytelling and understanding all of the different places that you have to be to tell your story. You can’t just pick one medium and believe that is where your audience lives. The digital landscape has become very influential in how people consume and research information—whether it’s B2B or B2C, we must understand that we have generational shifts in who might be purchasing our product and who might want to engage our services. Agencies must have expertise in so many different areas in order to be consistent across all platforms.
How do you think that the recipe of engagement has changed?
I see it as a real mix because we have been chained to our digital world for the last couple years without a lot of external opportunities to market and sell. Let’s say a printing company is having a hard time getting out in front of people. The digital landscape has become a really strong portal for a lot of new business opportunities. Having said that, however, we are all digitally exhausted. So, we must focus on a mix of engagement and use breakthrough media like print.
How do we make real connections with all of this digital exhaustion?
I think the content that we’ve all been consuming over these last few years has become confusing. We simply are not convinced that everything that we’re seeing is real. So, authenticity matters when telling stories. It is born from really listening to people and understanding what their needs are and really trying to tell a story through whatever content is needed to convey sincerity. Our BS meter is so high as consumers, that developing that trust through authenticity matters most to us at Bubble & Hatch.
We cannot over promise and under deliver. That is why we must constantly revisit that connection with our clients so we always know what’s important to them. And once we gain that understanding, we adjust accordingly.
Historically, printers positioned themselves to capture the demand for print, but are they creating demand for print?
I think this is a real evolution for the industry for sure. No longer do people really care as much about what equipment you have; they care about what deliverables you have. The key is listening to what your clients need, as opposed to saying, “this is what I do.” It’s a different conversation than the print industry has had to have in the past. It’s a different sales process. The buyers of today are very different. And so, they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know what they need and we can no longer hope that the print comes to us. A different group of buyers just means you have to listen better and you have to put those mechanisms in place to understand what’s important to them.
So, what’s your advice?
My advice is that you internally start to look like your external marketplace. Hire outside of what you would normally have so that your team starts to look like your clients. Then your story is not only told through your words, but through action and through your understanding of the customers of today.
Tell your story from the perspective of your value not from your deliverables. People still buy from people. They still, even if you’re an online seller, buy from people. And so, what’s going to resonate is connecting on a human level. Print businesses have an opportunity to connect, so don’t be afraid to be human.
Why was it important for you to get involved with America’s Print Show 2022?
It’s about building community and understanding what the world looks like outside of our own little silo. The ability to go in person and to connect, to get out of our COVID shells, and start having conversations again is so important. And America’s Print Show is creating an opportunity to do that. I think the location serves a great demographic within a five-hour area. There’s a lot of people who have easy access, and there’s going to be just a lot of really solid content to be able to have conversations around.
Also, it’s not just talking heads. It’s really more about having a conversation and what you can take back with you and apply to your own business. I’m excited to be chairing a conversation around workforce development and what the future looks like.
I want to see people be challenged. I want to see people think differently about how they go about their business, because that is going to create greater success than just waiting and hoping and praying that we’re going to get back to where we were. That is not the landscape anymore, but you don’t have to be a victim to that. And to be around people that are going through some of those same issues will be amazing
Final thought about APS22?
It’s going to be great! Part of the value is that it’s new and we can all see things from a fresh lens; we can all come in with the same experiences yet vulnerabilities. It is really cool seeing it evolve into something that is a real value add for all the attendees, the exhibitors, and the professionals in the industry who are helping to guide this thing. I’m very excited about it and I am proud of the leadership role that America’s Print Show is taking. I am bullish on the show and the future.
Mark Potter – CEO of Conduit Inc.