Yes, it’s true. Despite what the social media and content marketing gurus tell us, print isn’t dead.
I still get tons of direct mail, lots of junk mail and my newspapers (yeah I know I’m a dinosaur) are still overflowing with inserts and flyers.
What’s more interesting is that many of our clients report that customers are still asking for printed material. Even some independent schools that are targeting a younger demographic say that prospective parents are asking to have a kit mailed to them.
On top of that, I just read a really interesting and persuasive piece on the virtues of printed annual reports by Tom Ahearn – who is a true expert in nonprofit communication. He demonstrates that print accounted for a $10.7 billion dollar investment by Warren Buffett and a small fortune left to the Rhode Island Foundation.
So now that we have determined that news of print’s death has been greatly exaggerated, the question is – where does print fit into a marketing mix?
For starters, you should be using print differently than you use online marketing. Don’t just replicate in print what exists on your website. By the way, the corollary of that is that your online content should be more than a series of print pieces rendered as pdfs.
Print can deliver user experiences that online content cannot. Take advantage of them. Here are some of the unique properties of print and seven reasons that print is still alive and kicking.
1. Think big. A large print piece provides more real estate and potential visual impact than even the largest monitor. The brochure that folds out into something larger than life or a well-designed poster has an incredible wow factor.
2. And small. A small teaser piece can, in the right setting, deliver more impact, more quickly than any smartphone. Whether it’s being put in the hands of pedestrians or comes with your mail or is included with a purchase, small print pieces make an impression.
3. Texture. You cannot provide texture on an electronic device. This can refer to traditional linen or laid finishes or rougher “recycled” finishes. It also encompasses smooth or high gloss finishes. The thickness (or thin-ness) of a piece also contributes to the experience. The feel of a printed piece delivers unique sensations that make a distinctive statement about a product or organization.
4. Shape. Paper can be cut into a range of configurations that is limited only by the imagination. Think about pop-up greeting cards or print pieces with windows that reveal something on the other side or a business card with rounded corners. Even something as simple as a presentation folder can only be rendered in print. Consider the myriad possibilities for saying something unique about your company.
5. Colour. Admittedly, a monitor delivers incredibly vivid images but the web is limited to 256 colours. Print can incorporate an almost infinite array of colour that, combined with great design, will yield pieces that are beautiful and eye catching – and stand out.
6. Fonts. Same issue as colour. If you want your online copy to be indexed by search engines and readable on most computers, your choice of fonts is quite limited. There are tens of thousands of available fonts and print allows you to use them to their fullest potential.
7. Personalization. Everyone loves to see his or her name in print (even if they won’t admit it). Technology, like variable printing, has made personalization in print painless. Whether its something as simple as a personalized letter or a more impressive personalized book or proposal, printing someone’s name will increase affinity and better get their attention.
So there you have it. The strategic use of print is still an effective way to distinguish your organization from your competitors and that is the reason that print is not dead.
There are many other unique properties to print. Please comment and tell me about how you have used them in your marketing mix.