Print is Alive!

printing press

In many people’s minds the choice between digital media and print for marketing collateral is a foregone conclusion - print is a thing of the past - right?

Actually, it’s not that clear cut- there are plenty of signs that print is still very much an effective option and is even seeing a resurgence in some areas.

The print industry has seen some seismic changes over the centuries - from metal type through to desktop publishing, print has had to change with the times and utilise the latest technology to meet evolving demands. The biggest challenge, of course, has been the digital revolution - changing the way we acquire, consume and store information from news and basic communications to entertainment.

Email marketing is fast, measurable and cost-effective. With many businesses being partly or even wholly on line it’s also an easy way of funnelling interest directly into sales opportunities.

But all this has to be viewed in the context of current attitudes. Arguably, email usage in general has reached saturation point with employees now identifying "email fatigue" as a serious workplace issue. This means that, not only are advertisers often up against high levels of competition, they face the strong possibility that many emails could be instantly binned or worse still, seen as a nuisance - and this reflects on the sender’s brand.

In addition, there is the added hurdle of GDPR which makes it illegal to send marketing emails to any member of the public who has not opted in to receive them. Businesses must also have express permission to store any data acquired from those individuals.

Print, on the other hand has some good things going for it. Recently published statistics from Royal Mail Marketreach reported that 75% of small businesses that use direct mail agreed that it offers a good return on investment. The same research highlighted a number of other benefits:

  • Increased sales when adding mail to campaigns (an extra 27%).
  • Longer shelf life - addressed advertising mail keeps a brand/product in a recipient’s home for an average of 17 days.
  • Emotional impact - 80% of those surveyed said that they could remember seeing or reading mail sent to them in the previous four weeks.

And, critically, more than twice as many rated mail as giving a better impression of the company compared to email.

Naturally, the B2B environment is different but the human responses are likely to be very similar.

It’s also notable that recipients of printed items reported feeling more valued and were more likely to regard the contents as trustworthy and believable. With a high standard of print quality, individuals are bound to recognise the investment that the company has made in getting the message to them - it shows that they mean business and have a level of pride in their products and services.

Of course, delivering a printed message is never going to be as instant or as low-cost (per send) as digital media but there a things you can do to make that message count and keep it as cost effective as possible. That Initial mail contact can be kept smaller to minimise postage cost - keep brochures and catalogues for those that show a high level interest or to hand out on one to one basis. Superior quality materials add weight to the message and help make the reader less likely to discard it quickly. Good design, clear sales points, and prominent calls to action are all vital ingredients too.

All things considered, there are pros and cons to both approaches but it’s important to know when to use digital media, when to use print and when a combination of both is likely to boost the response even further.

One thing is for certain - print should certainly not be ignored when you next review your marketing strategy.

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