Many companies opt for digital advertising and digital content when it comes to reaching out to potential and existing clients. Certainly, while digital is king and we are in fact in the midst of a digital age, print still has a very prominent place. Though print is no longer as widespread in its use as it once was in the age of newspapers and printed advertisements, it is still essential for a well-rounded advertising campaign.
Print is Not Dead
There certainly is still a place in this digital age for tangible, printed materials. Professionally printed materials have the potential to be utilized in ways that a piece of digital content may not or can not be. For example, pamphlets, fliers, brochures, business cards and other pieces of printed content can be handed out to people as opposed to sending an email that many will delete without every opening. Print offers a tangible item that can be referred back to time and again. Unlike an email, text message, or digital ad, printed marketing materials remain in homes, doctor’s offices, and other places far longer than a piece of digital content.
Print Changes Roles
Before digital marketing and a more robust technological infrastructure, printing was everything. Businesses relied on it for marketing, advertising, accounts payable and receivable, internal and external communication, productivity, and much more. While some companies still may rely on printing for some core areas of business, digital solutions are a much more affordable, logical, and sustainable solution for most to maintaining productivity and efficiency in business operations.
In some industries, print has made a surprising resurgence and in a different way than before. We work with a significant number of realtors and real estate agencies. Over the last several decades, they have come to rely on printed materials to accent their level of service. While letterheads, brochures, pocket folders, and business cards were a necessity in the past, today they are not. For the realtors who opt for these tangible items, it becomes a point of pride and something that sets them apart from other agents. For this group and others in a similar position such as attorneys, insurance agents, etc., printed materials have gone from necessities to enhancements for your brand and professional image.
Consistency & Appealing to All Groups
Printed items resonate with a larger age range of prospects and existing clientele. Some digital content or advertising may be offputting to less tech-savvy users. Also, digital content functions and displays different on different devices or screen sizes. This inconsistency in the content delivery means you no longer control how your marketing message is viewed or received.
If your business relies on older generations, they still prefer the feel and use of printed items over digital. For example, they still enjoy getting a morning paper for their news and depend on snail mail for their bills and other communique.
Printing is also not just about the method of communication. Many older groups simply prefer the feel of a printed piece in their hands rather than something that they look at on a screen before it recedes into the virtually millions of pieces of digital content that is present every day. Printed material helps the content and marketing message stand out.
Even younger generations are mixed in how they choose to interact with and absorb information. Some prefer video or audio, some enjoy eReaders and digital media, while some still prefer reading books, magazines, or important information in print. For those who prefer print over digital, this preference is not just about the method of communication itself. Some individuals, especially older generations, prefer the feel of a printed piece in their hands rather than something that they look at on a screen. Most who feel this way also appreciate a tangible product because it allows them to focus singularly on one piece of content.
Online marketing is a sea of distractions. Spend one minute on any major news website (CNN, HuffPost, Wallstreet Journal) and you are visually bombarded on all sides. These distractions take away from your marketing message as you are sharing screen real estate with many other potential competitors or mixed messages.
Better Targeting than Digital for Your Audience
Print also continues to hang on for advertisers that find success with marketing campaigns such as direct mail. These campaigns allow companies of any size to send professionally printed marketing materials directly to people based on demographics and their location. While that might sound similar to digital marketing, keep in mind with print marketing you are reaching prospects in the physical world, where they live, sleep, eat, or work. While it seems most of us spend the majority of our day with our heads buried in our phones, we still are exposed to a high number of tangible marketing materials every single day and may not even realize it.
Digital marketing can be extremely robust and allow you to target prospects in a variety of ways such as paid search ads, social media campaigns, email marketing and much more. However, online marketing and advertising strategies rely on the prospect seeing your add or opening the email message. If they do not take the first step themselves, it won’t matter how great your sales pitch might be.
On the contrary, even a horrible direct mail postcard is at least picked up and examined before being thrown away right?
While no one should aim to produce substandard marketing materials, this little glance and action the recipients take trumps any digital marketing strategy. The likelihood someone will throw away their physical mail without even looking at it is highly unlikely. Digital mail, on the other hand, is often deleted without ever opening the message or caught by spam filters, never even reaching its intended target.
A Business card is another example of commercially printed material that proves invaluable. Business cards are concise, to the point, and provide all critical pieces of contact information you will need to reach out to the individual when the time arises.
If you are debating the necessity for a great business card, then you must not attend many face-to-face networking events!
For networking professionals, a business card is critical to not only making new connections, but provides an essential and powerful way for you to follow up, schedule one-on-ones or pursue a potential lead if you feel they are a good fit for your business.
As business owners, we attend tradeshows as well as local networking events. We always return home with a stack of business cards and regularly revisit them to engage with a prospect or even just to refer someone we know to someone we met at an event. Print materials are the backbone of networking today and will continue to dominate this market for the foreseeable future.
New Printing Technology and Materials
While print is far from dead, we are advocates and believers in technology.
By no means would we try to sell someone on the idea that print is better than digital in all situations; or that print should replace digital marketing entirely. In fact, print and digital combined can make a far more impressive impact than either can do on its own. For example, a simple marketing campaign that consists of a printed brochure, promotional item, business card and pocket folder, as well as online marketing, sent directly to the customer through email, social media, etc. would create an incredibly memorable impact and build brand awareness.
Digital technology can also be integrated into print marketing as well. QR codes, for example (check out our QR Code Guide) are easy to add to any print piece and can help unlock new content on the digital platform of your choice. These scannable codes can include contact information, external files such as PDFs, links to coupons or discount offers, product landing pages, and much more.
3D printing also brings new life to the idea of creating a printed product rather than relying solely on digital products, marketing, and online experiences. Most 3D printing is used for applications outside of marketing but as humans, we still enjoy holding items in our hand as opposed to interacting with them through our mobile device or laptop screen. 3D printing has grown by $1 billion in the last year alone and in the last five years. In 2012, less than 40,000 desktop 3D printers were sold. In 2015 nearly 280,000 were sold. 3D printing has exploded to 7x greater than it was just three years prior. This analogy only proves the point that while digital marketing grows, we still need and desire a connection to our physical world.
Print Keeps us Human
In a recent article, we stressed the importance of customer service for building and maintaining relationships with clients. Printed marketing materials support your relationship building efforts as well. While that might seem odd or unrelated, think about what defines excellent customer service.
The one-on-one personal investment you make into each client to ensure their needs are being met or exceeded would be more memorable if you leave something behind after your time together.
A follow-up email, a tweet, or social inbox message simply does not make a lasting impression with customers. In fact, most companies who focus on digital marketing will automate their digital marketing which makes the emails or marketing you receive seem far less human or that they were meant specifically for you.
Face time matters. Tangible marketing materials matter.
We Can Help Integrate Print into Your Marketing Mix
As experts in printing and physical marketing and advertising products for the last 40 years, Acu-Data can work with you to develop stronger and more memorable marketing materials that get noticed, generate better leads, or just put a more professional face on your company. If you just want to dust the cobwebs off your business cards or brochure you last updated in 1995, we can help bring you into the modern age with a fresh design and some amazing printing finishes and paper options. But don’t forget:
We are so much more than just paper and ink!
If you would like to learn more about us or our line of print-related marketing services, please contact us online and schedule a no-obligation consultation or call 1-800-535-6563 to get started today!