July 22, 2022 By PrintAction Staff
Ian Burke, 53, is the proud owner and CEO of the Burke Group of companies with offices in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta. The Burke Group is a graphic communications solutions corporation with a one-stop-shop philosophy. It began as a commercial printer, but when Burke recognized the market was changing, he expanded his product offerings and acquired many companies such as Target Advantage, King Sign, McCallum Printing, Topline, Printcor and Skyline Signs. These moves allowed Burke to build a company with diverse offerings.
What is the state of the print industry today, in your opinion?
IB: In my opinion, it is better than ever. The print sector is no different than other industries. You need to be willing to adapt and diversify to stay competitive. We understood our customers wanted to expand their marketing into other avenues besides print, so I ensured Burke was able to offer them that. Now, along with print we offer digital print, warehousing, graphic design, mail, large-format printing, commercial and exterior signage, installation, and digital marketing services. Creating a seamless transition from print and mail to digital services has allowed us to not only retain clients, but also educate new ones on the value of print and cross-media marketing.
What attracted you to the industry?
IB: My neighbour worked for Quality Colour Press, a great company, and they introduced me to print. What kept me in the industry is the fact that it is very diverse and there are many avenues for growth. It’s always exciting and I love the challenge.
How can the industry attract more young people?
IB: Trust and freedom. My goal is to create a flexible and positive working environment. I trust my team to do their jobs and, in return, they trust me to give them the space to do so. I do not micromanage my team, and I think that letting my team control their day is a huge draw for young people. Employees thrive when they are given the opportunity to succeed. My team is meticulous and on point because they are in charge of their responsibilities, and they take pride in that.
In such a competitive landscape, how can printers win more sales?
IB: By educating our customers and understanding as an industry that we must be willing to expand into the digital marketplace. I personally believe cross-media marketing is the solution. We all know this works, but the key to winning more sales is internal training so that you can educate your clients. For example, when you integrate direct mail with digital, the mix will drive more action. When combined, campaigns receive 57 per cent more attention and 46 per cent higher brand recall. Overall, integrated campaigns drive 39 per cent more attention and multichannel customers spend three to four times more than single-channel customers. Take the time to educate your staff so that they have the ammunition to win more sales.
What are some of the biggest opportunities in the print industry?
IB: Our biggest opportunity is that print advertising is trending up. Obviously, digital marketing is a common way to advertise your business, but if you aren’t getting results, then something has to change. Digital marketing campaigns have become flooded with noise and media, taking away the consumer’s ability to engage with the message. Meanwhile, direct mail has a stronger perceived value. Consumers touch and feel a tangible, and often, personalized piece delivered straight to them and for them. Additionally, after the negative push from the media in the mid 90’s and early 2000’s, customers are now realizing that print media actually is environmentally friendly and recyclable as well as an integral part of a marketing budget. I think a lot of clients are starting to realize digital media channels simply cannot compete with the tactile nature of print.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about print today?
IB: Easy, two things. The diverse groups of clients we get to work with, and our staff at Burke. My team is always coming up with great ideas to help both ours and our clients’ businesses and it’s a privilege to work with them.
Burke’s responses were edited for length. For more Q&A Spotlight interviews, please visit www.printaction.com/profile.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of PrintAction.
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