Is Printing Dead?
The reports of printing’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
If you’re reading this blog on your phone, it may have struck you that a lot of print media is being replaced and made obsolete by said phone and the millions like it. Content is easily delivered to millions of readers and consumers electronically, which saves money and reduces the use of paper and other less recyclable materials. But don’t write the obituary just yet! Printed business marketing materials like business cards, flyers, brochures, and merchandise, are still quite necessary, and very effective.
There are several reasons not to overlook printed marketing materials for your business.
We humans have five basic senses. Vision is obviously the primary concern for marketing materials, because they require good graphic design to command attention and communicate a message visually; but printed marketing materials also engage our sense of Touch.
When trying to make an impression, capitalizing on more than one sense can make a big impact. Tactile sensation can really distinguish your materials from a competitor’s when the feel is something unexpected. This moment of surprise can be a delight that creates a favorable and memorable experience.
Print can also have a pleasant aroma. Sometimes the paper itself has an interesting smell, but fragrances can be applied when appropriate — if your business is cosmetics for instance. There’s even a subtle auditory element when handling printed materials that some may find appealing.
We need our basic senses to communicate, and printed marketing materials can engage almost all of them for maximum effectiveness.
How many windows do you have open right now? More than one? Does this article have your undivided attention? If so… THANK YOU! But, it probably doesn’t, and that’s OK.
Your day is filled with emails, texts, posts, apps, videos, pop-up ads, e-invites, tags, alerts, and so on. It’s a constant deluge of digital marketing and information. It’s easy to tune out a lot of it, or just plain miss something in the never-ending stream.
Print marketing has a couple of advantages over digital marketing: focus and persistence.
There’s only so much you can hold in your hand, so whatever you’re holding probably has all–or most–of your attention. There’s rarely another printed piece actively doing anything to steal your focus, because that’s not how print works.
Digital marketing is often fed to you in a continuous stream. It’s there for a moment, but then it’s replaced by something else, or you’ve scrolled past it. Have you ever tried to find something you saw on social media so you can show a friend, only to find that it’s impossible to find again?
You may try to save a web article for later, but even if you keep it open, it gets mixed up or covered up by a cluster of open windows, and possibly lost when you close your app or browser. You can’t stick a text to your fridge, but you can put a postcard with a special offer up there where you’ll see it and remember it when you need it. Unless you throw it away, that printed item will still be there, like a faithful companion.
Never Underestimate the Power of “Stuff”
When someone receives a printed piece, be it a business card, a coupon, or a deluxe welcome kit, that person feels like they’ve gained something of at least some measurable value. The business card will help them find you when they need help. The coupon will save them money. The welcome kit might have useful information, or some fun and unexpected branded swag inside.
Regardless of the specific item, any real, actual thing carries an intrinsic value that no digital ad can match. How often have you been handed a card or coupon, and thought “don’t lose this.” Many of us have frequently-used service providers’ business cards kept at the ready for quick reference. A mug or pen with a logo and phone number will probably be used hundreds of times.
Printed marketing materials in the hands of a customer is “theirs.” It belongs to them, and they don’t have to share. There’s no jockeying for position or reading over another’s shoulder. They can read it and use it the way they like best. They can keep it to themselves like a secret stash, or if you’re lucky, they’ll help their friends get their own and share the wealth.
The Best of Both Worlds
Keeping printed marketing materials in your toolkit doesn’t mean ignoring digital. Ideally, you want to integrate the two so they can work together for the best possible results.
QR Codes on a printed piece can spark curiosity, especially when there’s some incentive to use it, like cash savings or a freebie. It also gives you a way to send prospects right where you want them to go, without them having to sort through a multitude of websites, pages and links on their own.
Price is, of course, often a major deciding factor in many consumers’ minds, and Promotional Codes are another great way to give a prospect something of perceived value. Give someone a card with a discount code on it, and they might feel special. “This business values me as a customer so much that they’ll give me an exclusive deal!”
You can even use printed marketing materials as a way to gauge whether your messaging is as effective as it should be. Direct mail can provide measurable feedback when you track how many calls mention the specific promotion, or you can count the visits to the website page the mailer promotes. You can even do two or more different messages to see which one lands with your customer base.
Let’s wrap this up.
Let’s say your marketing is working, and you’ve made a sale. Congratulations! But the print possibilities aren’t done yet. If you’re delivering a product, the box it comes in is another chance to make a good impression. The design on the container should look nice of course, but the material itself can also send a message. Using recycled and recyclable materials, environmentally friendly inks, or reusable packaging is a great way to make the customer feel good about their purchase, and about the company they purchased it from.