Is Print Marketing Undead?

Is print marketing undead?

It’s Halloween again, that time of year when the dead rise again. Ghosts, ghouls, and zombies shamble down our streets, demanding candy. Seems like a good time to talk about a subject that’s been publicly declared dead many times, but still seems to be walking among us.

Print marketing.

We’ve all seen the obituaries – “Print is dead!” Newspapers are going out of business; magazines are shutting down; print budgets are being slashed. Digital has taken over, we are told, and print marketing is no more.

But apparently print marketing is still roaming the corridors of corporate America.

A study by the CMO Council found that 84% of companies still use printed collateral material as part of their marketing mix. 72% use printed presentations; 66% still use folders and handouts, and 57% do direct mail. Maybe, as Mark Twain famously said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Every time a new advertising medium comes along, people say it will make the old ones obsolete. Radio was supposed to supplant print advertising; TV supposedly would make radio obsolete. And the internet, we are told, replaces everything. But does it?

There’s no question that digital marketing is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Smart companies are devoting more and more time and budget to internet advertising, websites, social media, and email marketing. At SkyHawk Studios, most of our efforts go into digital marketing. But that doesn’t mean there is no place for print. Most of our clients are still using some form of print marketing – catalogs, brochures, print ads, folders, handouts, and so on.

What makes print unkillable?

  1. Longevity: Print is “sticky.” It stays around. It has a tangible, physical presence. Magazines, brochures, catalogs are kept for months or years, while an online ad is gone with the click of a mouse. There’s a reason we call printed presentations “leave-behinds.” You leave them with the customer after the meeting as a continuing physical reminder of the sales arguments you made.
  2. Niche appeal: Print advertising is still one of the best ways to reach a niche market. While the broad general interest magazines are in trouble, specialty magazines for specific industry groups and professions are flourishing. And since ad pages are declining, there is less competition for your print ads. Niche magazines have spent a lot of time and money developing their mailing lists, so you reach a specialized core audience.
  3. Engaging: Recent research by Temple University showed that people spend more time reading printed content than digital content, and retain more information. They found that people perceived printed content as having more value. And according to more than half of all consumers trust print marketing more than any other advertising method. Studies have found that while web content is often skimmed rapidly, printed content is read slower and with more care. And surprisingly, 69 percent of millenials prefer print communications to reading off a screen.
  4. Credibility: Studies show that people tend to believe what they read in print more than content read online. They develop a loyalty to “their” magazines, and trust them to bring them reliable information, both in content and in their ads.
  5. Branding: Print materials are a vital part of your branding strategy. Your website, digital ads and social media can establish your branding, but to give it lasting weight and presence, you need print – business cards, brochures, packaging, signage. These are the things that give you a lasting company image. Web images come and go in a flash, but your printed materials will last.
  6. An integrated approach: Print isn’t dead, it is simply evolving so that its unique strengths complement your digital media. When print and digital join forces, you get a multi-channel experience that deepens emotional impact and strengthens brand loyalty. Print adds a tangible, real-world experience to your marketing mix, and reinforces an image of quality and craftsmanship.

So that ghost you see roaming your office corridors this Halloween may just be your next print marketing campaign, waiting to be brought to life!

What’s your experience using print as part of your marketing mix?

About Jefferson Hawkins

With over 40 years experience in graphic design, marketing and advertising, Jefferson brings a wealth of old-school basics to the digital age.

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