In today’s digital world with so much focus on digital media many people forget the power of the printed page. While an Internet store may require very little print marketing, if you’re a smaller, local business that deals with your clients directly and promotes your business locally by personal contacts, printed materials are often the primary tool for illustrating who you are, what you do, promoting brand awareness, generating new business, and/or driving traffic to a website.
With today’s intense competition, a well thought-out brand strategy and well-designed marketing materials are critical to demonstrate who you are, your expertise and professionalism, how you are unique and to reaffirm why they should feel good about doing business with you.
A list of the top reasons why printing is still important – and still sells – in todays digital world follows:
1 Print Is For Keeps – Electronic content comes and goes and when it’s gone, your marketing initiative disappears with it. Print, on the other hand, is there for the long run. In action, print’s durability has a positive impact on every message it touches. It says: Your message is significant. That you cared enough to put it on paper. That you are authentic rather than virtual, and you will be there when we need you.
A Magazine Publishers of America survey found that 24% of readers typically pass an article along to someone else, 23% save the article for future reference and 13% visit a related website.
2 Print Is Portable – Long after their iPod battery is drained, people will still be reading what you send them in print. Print is the ultimate in portability and playability. They can pick up a magazine at a newsstand, or grab your brochure from a trade show exhibit. There are no compatibility issues, no need to keep anything charged, and never a worry about screen glare. You can fold print, stuff it, clip it, even scratch-and-sniff it.
Print can be carried and consumed anywhere, at anytime: On trains, planes and in cars. Take it to bed, to the beach or to the bath. There’s no need to boot it up or power it down. Print is always there and always ready to instruct, inform and entertain.
3 Print Drives a Higher ROI – According to research by the Direct Marketing Association and the Wharton Economic Forecasting Associates, print’s performance through direct mail can be quantified. The DMA researchers found that on average U.S. advertisers spend $167 per person in direct mail marketing to earn $2,095 worth of goods per person, scoring a return on investment of 13 to 1. Why? Because people gravitate toward print. A total of 38% of households surveyed by the U.S. Postal Service in 2006 found direct mail pieces interesting. That study also found that 85% of mail is either read or visually scanned by recipients.
Direct mail is also a great way to expand business relationships and keep customers loyal. A study by the Rochester Institute of Technology Printing Industry Center found that
67% of respondents like getting mail about new products from companies with whom they do business.
4 Print Is Beautiful – Why do they call it the graphic arts? Because print is beautiful and printers continue to consider every job they do a personal masterpiece. And now, advanced printing techniques — like high-fi color and advanced screening — make their work more appealing and more compelling. Photos seem to jump off the page. Special effects draw the eye to the printed content, and a new generation of papers and substrates make readers want to touch and feel your message.
You can’t get any closer than that. The beauty of print will enhance your product or service, giving it a special appeal of its own and an extra tangible dimension that no electronic media can impart.
5 Print Plays Well With Others – Sure, the Internet is cool. What’s cooler is using a printed direct mail campaign to draw prospects to a personalized website, then following up with a printed thank-you card or closer. Yes, the World Wide Web provides a real-time interactive environment, but so do the telephone and the television. Print enhances the impact of all of those media by providing your client’s prospects with an extra dimension. One that’s friendly. One that’s warm. One that’s inviting. And, one that they can’t very well ignore because they’re holding it right in their hands.
An American Business Media study adds more insight into the effectiveness of combining print with other media. According to that research, B-to-B magazines were viewed by prospects as trustworthy and objective, websites were seen as the place where they received timely information, and trade shows were viewed as the place for interactions and to improve their awareness of alternatives. That must be why smart marketers are using all three outlets to maximize their ROI.
6 Buyers Seek Print – Conventional wisdom says that the success of retail websites means printed catalogs can be relegated to the doornail file. But, recent research indicates otherwise. Online consumers who received a printed catalog from any given retailer were nearly twice as likely to make an online purchase at that retailer’s website. The finding comes from a comScore survey based on 6,400 responses from online shoppers. The reason for the sales windfall: consumers seek print when they’re ready to buy.
7 Print Is Credible – The phrase, “Get it down on paper” has never been more meaningful. Having words and images that you can examine and hold in your hand, review, show to others and keep in a safe place provides a degree of reassurance that no digital medium can match. People love the speed and scope of the Internet, but the Web’s fleeting nature makes them wonder: Is this for real? What’s with all the contradictory information? Will this company be here tomorrow? Conversely, our ink-on-paper medium is believable because print is real – you can feel it and hold it in your hand. Print lasts.
An increasing number of marketers are leveraging print’s high credibility by using custom publications to get their messages out and absorbed. More than 32 billion custom publications circulate annually in the United States, according to the Custom Publishing Review’s 2006 Annual Report. Total expenditures on the medium amounted to $29.9 billion for the year. The researchers also found that 66% of people surveyed read custom publications and that 80% agree that custom publications contain useful information. They are believers because print is the credible medium.
8 Print Puts Them In Control – Telemarketing is the crudest form of marketing and, with the growth in do-not-call lists, its effectiveness has sunk to an all-time low. In fact, a Time magazine poll ranked telemarketing number four on the list of the worst ideas of the 20th century. More and more companies today stay away from the phone because they don’t want their reputations damaged by overeager telemarketers.
But what happens when we add print to the equation? Send prospects a personalized mailing with and off that introduces the caller and lets them tell you the best time to call. Now you’re putting the potential customer in control of the situation. There are no more interruptions at dinner. There is only a positive flow of information between the marketer and the consumer. The bond starts to get stronger, the relationship grows, and the sale becomes a natural progression of the power of print rather than a rude intrusion.
9 Print Is Personal – It’s time to put each prospect’s name up in lights, literally. Or use a skywriter to put your personalized message to them in the clouds. Or maybe you want to include a photo or the specific product in which they expressed interest. Print can do all that and more because print takes marketing personally. Using new variable data printing (VDP) and one-to-one messaging techniques, you can personalize each and every piece of your print campaign — right down to the specific photos you use and every word of your pitch. Did someone say relationship building?
According to a 2004 report by Interquest, the response rate for customized color direct mail campaigns ranged from 6% to 75%, with an average of 21%. The response rates were, on average, 5.6 times higher for customized color versions than for simple mail merge
applications. The more you individualize print, the more individuals you will conect to your message.
10Print Is Everywhere – Print has been the world’s favorite medium ever since Gutenberg printed the first bible. We’re used to being surrounded by print. We’re comfortable with it. We want more. What do the numbers say? Consider a 2006 survey by the magazine Graphic Design USA. It found that 9 out of 10 of the designers polled have worked in print during the last year. What’s more, a total of 91% of the respondents’ projects involved print exclusively or were comprised of a substantial print component. The survey also discovered that 71% of the designers’ total work hours were devoted to print-driven projects.
Look at event marketing. It wouldn’t be possible without print. Programs, posters, signage of all kinds, special commemorative publications — print is on the scene at ball games, motorsports venues, concerts, shows, fairs, museums, galleries and rallies. Wherever a crowd gathers, print can provide a platform for marketers and a fresh perspective for fans. There is even evidence that we like print more than television. A study by the Magazine Publishers of America found that for 36 brands that shifted ad expenditures from TV to magazines, media effectiveness scores doubled over time. Those are the vital signs of a medium that’s vibrant and valuable. That medium is print.
Above from The Print Council, now the Rochester Institute of Technology Cross-Media Innovation Center. Print in the Mix is a clearinghouse of research demonstrating the effectiveness of print used with other formats (web, mobile, social media, etc.) in a cross-media communications value chain. Their mission is to advocate and educate for the value of print as a viable and effective ROI in the marketing strategy media mix.