Print marketing was once ubiquitous throughout the industry. Practically every company worked with a print shop to produce marketing materials they sent out to advertise their businesses at trade shows, street corners, mailboxes, and distributed to shoppers on their premises. In fact, my first job after my MBA involved working for a direct marketing firm doing a lot of print marketing.
Digital marketing, however, soon took over due to its low cost and ability to reach vast swaths of both consumers and businesses. Digital marketing is new and exciting and seems to offer more reach than traditional methods, although many businesses still struggle with gaining ROI from their digital marketing efforts.
That analysis, however, was somewhat premature. People love the internet, but they also enjoy being in the real world too. And they’re still influenced by the offline marketing they see. It makes a big difference. Hence, utilizing a combination of digital marketing and offline efforts, such as print marketing, reinforce your message, help you reach a more diverse audience, and combine to improve performance. It’s not a question of either/ or, but how to successfully combine both digital and offline marketing into a cohesive strategy.
For example, trade shows continuously produce the highest ROI of all marketing efforts, especially in business-to-business markets. And, going to a trade show without print marketing materials attendees take with them as a reminder after the event wastes money.
In this post, we look at why print marketing is still essential – and why your company should include this tactic in your overall marketing strategy.
6 ways print marketing still works
It enhances your reputation
Everyone knows how cheap and easy it is to create digital marketing content. People can literally do it from their bedrooms.
The authority of digital advertising materials is, therefore, pretty low.
The same, however, is not true of printed materials, such as reprographics. Physical magazines, posters, and brochures make businesses appear more professional and better established. Thus, if you’ve only been around a few months, developing printed marketing materials a great way to support your professionalism and anchor your business as something more than a fly-by-night operation.
It makes you more competitive
A lot of modern companies are one hundred percent digital in their marketing efforts believing that if it’s not online, it’s not worth their attention. Part of this comes from the relatively low cost of digital marketing, which really isn’t true. Digital marketing requires spending on advertising either in search or social platforms or both, hiring highly-trained marketers with expertise in planning, implementation, and monitoring digital campaigns, and crafting valuable content on a consistent basis, as well as mastering the technical aspects of SEO, web design, and visual marketing.
Not only does cost offer distinct advantages for those that do decide to market offline but it means you’re working in a less competitive space. With less competition, you can get your message in front of more people for less than it costs online. You can also diversify your marketing mix by adding offline marketing, thereby reducing your exposure to risk.
Reach specific targets
Some target markets are challenging to reach through digital marketing or respond better to offline marketing efforts. For instance, business buyers still prefer to see products face-to-face. Sure, they might re-purchase products through an online portal, but the initial purchase requires a personal touch through visits by sales representatives or meeting them at trade shows. In both cases, print marketing supplements the salesperson’s pitch and reinforces features and benefits of products long after the sales rep leaves.
Leave behinds like brochures are great, but consider the secondary reach offered by swag used where others see the product, such as calendars, posters, writing pads, journals, and other print materials. When others see friends and colleagues using these printed materials, they feel more trust in the brand.
Also, consider certain consumer target markets that don’t love the internet. For instance, seniors prefer print marketing over digital, many still receiving newspapers, magazines, and direct mail. Recognizing this, AARP runs an effective print marketing campaign with their monthly magazine and frequent direct mail pieces to members and prospective members.
Computer and smartphone screens are great, but they can never reproduce the quality or fidelity of printed materials. Physical magazines will always look sharper and more defined than their digital counterparts.
The problem comes down to screen technology. Most people use devices that cannot accurately reproduce colors and tones. For that reason, the contrast between black and white is less than optimal. And some colors simply can’t be displayed.
With print, this isn’t an issue. Ink technology is advanced and can reproduce colors with extreme accuracy.
It grabs attention
Print marketing is unusual in today’s market. For that reason, it tends to grab more attention. Plus, because the colors are so good, it pops more than online banner ads. When people see it, it immediately registers and gets noticed. For instance, an ad from IBM in a tech journal included a 3D schematic of their new mainframes while another company created a pop-up that literally jumped off the pages to engage readers.
Print marketing can take a variety of forms. For some businesses, leaflets are the ideal method to use. For others, it’s posters. Think carefully about your company and which of these options is the most effective.
Digital marketing relies heavily on users owning functioning handsets and devices. Sometimes, though, they don’t. Cracked screens or ones with black, dead zones abound. Further, different devices produce vastly different results, hence digital efforts require tests across devices and modification to ensure the content appears properly across computers, tablets, and phones produced by different companies with different operating systems. We all received emails at one time or another when the layout was wonky or viewed a website where navigation was challenging because of the way the site rendered on our device.
Plus, a large number of people outside Western countries still don’t use smartphones at all or lack connectivity in some areas. And, some who do use smartphone technology have limited data plans that make them reluctant to view images online. And, the rise of smartwatches, with tiny screens, further complicates digital marketing efforts.
Print marketing gets around the technology penetration issue by being independent. It doesn’t matter what people are carrying around in their pockets. Print marketing lets you disconnect from tech and do things on your own terms.
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