HAD-Print in Halifax went off with a bang where their latest 'Breakfast Bash' networking event brought several local businesses together for a meet, greet and tasty bangers to eat.

Marking four years in business - their first in the Halifax studio - the printing company welcomed over thirty guests to a 2-hour session to discuss the state of play for small businesses post-pandemic and how the print industry is supporting the recovery. Attendees enjoyed open networking, a tour of the HAD-Print studio tour and a classic 'Banger Taste-off' with sausages from close-by Bolster Moor farm shop, before Manchester based Hussel Marketing owner and former contestant on BBC's 'The Apprentice', Lewis Ellis, talked about the integrating print in an omni-channel marketing approach alongside digital channels.

For owner and director, Stuart Nimmo, the occasion was more than an excuse to celebrate their latest milestone, with the use-case for print in the current climate the event's primary focus. Over thirty years in the industry, Stuart has seen many changes to the printing process, including its partial decline due to the rise of digital marketing. Rather than seeing the latter as a threat, his company looks for innovative ways to blend the two, helping their customers recognise how a hybrid approach to marketing can significantly impact new business.

"It's all about helping businesses to communicate effectively with their customers through print, and merging digital with physical print can really pack a punch", said Stuart.

"We like to challenge the norm, and print can do this as much as digital when used in the right way. Companies that ignore print nowadays are missing something incredible, particularly in the post-Covid world when people missed interacting with other humans. It's the same with print, it's something you touch and feel, and people want to see that more 'human' approach again within marketing."

Stuart certainly walks the walk, his pre-event marketing proof of how merging print and digital can work effectively in practice. Invitations were sent through the mail to local business owners as a folded card, with the event's main details printed on the inside and two sachets of sauce in the envelope. With a QR code to RSVP and a second to a page on the HAD-Print website, readers could see everything they needed to about the event in a digital format. This alone demonstrated how print needn't be large or lengthy but must be eye-catching to make an impression quickly. Guests also received a printed booklet entitled 'Closer', to show their range in capability and, more so, to emphasise Stuart's thoughts about how print is more intimate than digital.

"We absolutely need digital, yes. But there is so much about print that we can relate to. That personalised feeling, like when you write or receive a letter on hard-copy paper. It's tangible; you can touch and feel it. It has the power to make things real, giving your message more meaning. That has never been more important as we emerge from this pandemic - when life lacked meaning without our fellow humans close by. It's almost like we're starting all over again, and old-fashioned, scatter-gun print marketing isn't going to cut it. You can become targeted with your print by creating something unique and personalised. Businesses who want to survive nowadays need to rethink."

It was a sentiment shared by Ellis, as he spoke with the audience about his successes in marketing and the vital role of print in today's customer journey. Often described as an 'edgy' marketer who tells it exactly how it is, Ellis and his team at Hussel are well known for using disruptive methods to tell their client's story, and he was clear on how this is best achieved by combining digital with print.

Thanks to the pandemic, the latest event was the first time the company had accommodated a large group in the studio, with their last breakfast bash in 2019 a huge success and something Stuart had wanted to do ever since.

"Getting people together was important for me as it shows how much we need this interaction. Last time, the gimmick was coffee and this time, sausages. It doesn't matter what you go with, but having a gimmick can be critical to a successful marketing campaign. This is exactly what I wanted to show our local businesses. Now more than ever, we need to think differently - and vibrant use of print is just one way to do this."

It was another success for Stuart, with attendees interacting throughout the morning and lapping up everything served to them - and not only the sausages, as one business owner put it:

"It was brilliant to be back together in person and also to attend an event within a proper business setting rather than a clinical hotel conference room. Stuart runs a great operation here and demonstrates the power of print extremely well."

Of course, let's not forget this was a banger taste-off. Yet nobody seemed to mind whether Pork and Leek flavour landed better than Tomato or which type of sauce proves the ideal accompaniment. The clear winner was getting together with like-minded business owners to chat, share their experiences, and learn from print and marketing industry experts.