Giving Up on Print?

Once upon a time, in the not-too-distant past, communication between companies and customers was limited to a few channels. Apart from face-to-face interaction, your message could be delivered via magazine, newspaper, direct mail (including newsletters), television, or radio. Business-to-business marketers, particularly those in the agricultural marketplace, relied heavily on trade publications and direct mail to get their point across.

Now, in a few short years, the advent of the Internet and social media has signaled the demise of print as a viable means by which to reach and influence an agricultural audience.

Well, that’s what you’ve been told. But is it true?

According to a 2010 study conducted by Readex Research, the answer is a resounding no. The survey, focused on farmers and ranchers, revealed that print is still the channel used most—either on a weekly or monthly basis—as their information source. In fact, 96% of those surveyed indicated they used agriculture magazines and newspapers at least once a month. General daily newspapers and agriculture newsletters tied for second place at 81%. Agriculture internet sites, last out of six, came in at 51%

Taking it a step further (which is exactly what you want your customer to do), 86% of those surveyed indicated taking at least one action as a result of advertising in print publications. Interesting.

Now hold on
Bear in mind that another survey conducted by Readex, focused on more traditional business-to-business markets, asked respondents to report the usage of various media channels in their work. Of the nine potential choices—including print publications—Internet search engines came out on top.

So this certainly isn’t an “Internet is a passing fad” piece. This is a plea for an integrated approach to marketing communication. Unless your customers and prospects are all drawn from one extremely narrow demographic, chances are good they’re using a variety of channels to locate—and act upon—useful information. Even within the print-heavy demographic of older farmers, some are using the medium for research, some to purchase products or services, and others to validate purchases they’ve already made.

It’s likely your customers have formed a relationship of sorts with certain publications. Maybe their father read it religiously, they’ve seen it sitting on the coffee table all their life, or it was their “farm wish book” when they were starting out. Those bonds aren’t easily broken, so capitalize on them.

An established print presence, whether it’s a newsletter you publish or a respected trade magazine in which you advertise, can serve as the flagship of your brand. Surround your print with digital channels that diversify your reach and reinforce your message, and you’ll multiply your communication effectiveness.

How are you using print in your marketing communications plan? Let us know, and we’ll be happy to post your responses.