Print isn’t dead. It doesn’t matter what your in-house “marketing expert” is spouting. It doesn’t matter what is being discussed in your “entrepreneur” circles. It doesn’t even matter what many media outlets are so alarmingly proclaiming. Print isn’t dead and it will not be dying for a while to come and there is research to prove it.
Since the digital age began, there have been people announcing the death of print. This recurring theme permeates through virtually every industry now including the publishing sector, the media sector, and most importantly the printer and marketing sectors.
How the Digital Revolution Changed the Relevance of Print
The digital revolution had an impact on the print environment by simply changing the demand and supply dynamics. There are distinct advantages that digital media brought into the mix that didn’t exist before. Delivery speeds and response times are two of the most crucial.
Before digital media, the most time-consuming aspect of any marketing campaign was delivering the message to the recipients. Because delivery was so complicated and tedious, there was more time for message creation. Digital media made it easier for marketing messages to be disseminated. It is now more time consuming to create the message than to deliver it because delivery has become instantaneous.
Because delivering marketing messages has become easier, it has become cheaper too. What these changes in the dynamics of demand and supply have done is ensured delivery of mass market marketing messages. Print, however, couldn’t cope with these changes. As a result of this, people think that print is dead or dying.
However, the contention of this post is print isn’t dead but simply that it has evolved. Since print couldn’t cope in terms of volume, it has coped by way of quality. Print is now part of larger marketing campaigns that include digital channels as well. In these campaigns, print has taken the role of being the channel that focused on personalised marketing messages.
Why Print Isn’t Dead
Print isn’t dead at all. There are studies that prove this inviolable fact. For one, consider the print industry. In Australia alone, the print industry employs nearly a quarter of a million people and is valued at an amazing $7.5 billion. An even more astounding little statistic is that more than 20 million Australians receive printed ads in their letterboxes every week!
It isn’t just about size, however. Promotions based on printed material, from the perspective of marketing, also yield better Returns on Investment (ROI). Findings of a study conducted by Marketing Sherpa suggest that people trust print ads far more than digital ads. According to their study focusing on internet users, 76 percent of their respondents trust print ads in their letterbox while only 25 percent trust pop-up digital ads.
This, combined with the general cultural preference of Australians (66 percent think that it is important to get away from the digital world towards printed material), is probably why marketing through print delivers such tremendous results. What kind of results are we talking about? We’ll refer to Value of Paper and Print’s Research findings for this.
- The best ROI amongst all media channels down under is delivered by magazine advertisements. Their ROI is to the tune of 130 percent, as per GfK Australia (2015).
- The response rate of direct mail marketing is far greater than any digital media channel. In fact, this response rate outstrips all digital media channels combined. Direct mail has a response rate of 3.7 percent while all digital media channels only deliver 0.62 percent, as per DMA Response Rate Report.
- According to PAPERbecause, 81 percent of people read their direct mail.
The coup de grace argument that proves print isn’t dead is the fact that printed marketing material has better recall value than digital marketing material. A research conducted by TrueImpact in 2015 found that people were able to recall 75 percent of the direct mail advertisements they got but only 44 percent of the digital advertisements they received.
Each of these statistics not only reveals that print isn’t dead but actually shows that it isn’t even dying. Print marketing has still changed because of the advent of new technology.
Defining the Modern Print Campaign
The modern-day print campaign is much different from earlier eras. The full-spread advertisements in newspapers and centrefold posters in magazines are no longer as relevant as they used to be. Both these types of print marketing require massive investment and are focused on mass reach. Low-cost flyers and pamphlets are also designed to go for quantity over quality.
The modern-day print campaign is not independent of other marketing channels. Instead, it is supposed to be a component of a larger organism i.e. the marketing campaign. The modern-day print campaign should consist of custom printed marketing collateral. This doesn’t mean a unique sheet for every consumer. Instead, it means unique sheets for segmented audience groups.
Specifically, modern day print campaign will include everything from pamphlets and direct emails to catalogues and merchandise. You can use anything that you can print on for your print campaign but you need it to be specific, relatively customised, and further down the buying cycle than customer acquisition.
The Key to Making Print Marketing Successful
- Research: Print marketing was about maximum reach for minimum investment. Those values have now become the hallmark of digital marketing. Print marketing has, thus, had to change. It is now about specialised targeting, relationship formation, and conversion. All of these elements, however, depend on how well you know your audience. Unless you know your audience well, you won’t be able to target them appropriately, form a relationship with them and, hence, get the conversion.
- Customisation: Customisation follows through from research. Researching into your target audience will allow you to tailor your print marketing messages to their specific needs, requirements, problems, and personalities. You’ll be able to focus on the platform of your message, its tone, its content, and even the type of emotions it elicits. All this will be designed to make the individual feel special and think that you ‘get’ him. This is when conversion happens.
- Catalogues: The majority of marketers believe that conversion is no longer possible with print marketing. However, nothing can be farther than the truth. A research conducted by the Australian Catalogue Association has revealed in various ways how Australians value direct mailed catalogues. The research finds that 77 percent of people have engaged with a catalogue in the last 30 days while 60 percent of people have done so in the last seven days. More importantly, it finds that 59 percent of people purchase a product after seeing it in a catalogue. The point here is that research and customisation is done to create an effective print marketing message but catalogues are made a part of that message to convert audiences.
- Integration: Print marketing, unfortunately, cannot stand independently anymore. It is no longer a viable marketing channel by itself but it can be very effective if it is used as part of a whole. Print marketing campaigns need to be integrated with digital marketing campaigns so that they can leverage the reach and accessibility of digital media to reach the right audiences and subsequently convert them into paying customers.