Print Is Dead! Long Live Print!

For the past several years, I have been anxiously awaiting the official demise of print. After all, it’s been widely predicted. So, because I have worked in the print medium most of my adult life, you can see why I might be concerned.

Oddly enough, I keep getting a lot of print items in my mailbox. We’re still creating plenty of newsletters here at VistaComm and our portfolio of magazine clients has grown. At the same time, our digital business—the purported angel of death for print—is also rapidly expanding. What was I missing here?

Although the demise of print has been predicted, print newsletters remain a viable marketing tool.The answer came to me in the strangest of ways—in the midst of assembling one of those out-of-the-box pieces of furniture. Any good kit has all the parts, instructions and a list of the tools you should have. This particular set required a drill, a hammer and a screwdriver. Now, suppose I had looked at those instructions and said, “This is nice, but I don’t need the drill or the screwdriver. I have a hammer!” No.

The point is, I need all those tools for a successful outcome—and all the promised parts, too. The same holds true when creating a cohesive, effective communications program. Every tool—print newsletters, direct mail, social media, websites, email—have their place. Each has a specific use that, when combined properly, produce the desired result.

Where does print fit?

Have you ever wondered why you get all those newsletters and promotional mailings every day? Simple. They are effective, or no one would use them, especially in this digital age. As part of an integrated marketing campaign, print has certain qualities that other media can’t match.

VistaComms' Direct Mail Piece

To over simplify, advertising wins in creating awareness. Digital delivers immediacy. The strengths of print are touch, time and impact. Only print engages the sense of touch—it requires the recipient to literally handle it. And, studies have revealed that ink on paper make a deeper impression on our brain than the same message in digital form*.

As to time, people spend an average of 11.1 seconds considering an email. They will spend as much as 30 minutes on print pieces that capture their attention. It’s true that overall print usage has declined with the advent of digital communication. That is a point in favor of print. Marketing experts have noted that print may now be the “non-traditional” component of an integrated marketing effort, thus increasing the comparative impact of print pieces.

The lure of long-form

When acknowledging the ongoing value of print, it’s also useful to understand that not all print vehicles are created equal. Direct mail, for example, is a highly-effective cross between advertising and email, generating awareness and calling for a response. Targeted direct mail boasts a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s rate of 0.12%. And four-fifths (79%) of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45% who say they deal with email right away. (MarketingTech.com, July 2016)

Newsletters and magazines occupy a unique, and different, place. Because they have the capability of telling a more complex story and providing more detailed explanations of products or programs, these examples of long-form writing tend to engage the reader at a different level. The more time someone spends with your marketing tools, the more likely they are to buy from you or refer business to you. Newsletters and magazines have a power to build relationships with customers and prospects that complement and provide credibility for digital communication.One reason the demise of print hasn't occurred is the great shelf life of print pieces.

Print also comes with an almost unlimited shelf life. As marketers, we do desire an immediate response to our communications. But what if the recipient isn’t ready to buy—may not even be in the market for what you’re selling. Your customers buy when the time is right for them, not when you would prefer to sell. An interesting publication can wait patiently for months until the recipient has time to read it—or when they unexpectedly have a need for your product or service.

At VistaComm, we regularly receive calls from prospects who received our publication, filed away our information—either mentally or literally—and gave us a call when they were ready to move in a new direction.

The bottom line? Print is far from dead. An integrated marketing strategy utilizes both digital and print appropriately to engage, inform and retain customers while moving them toward purchase decisions. VistaComm can help you master both the online and offline worlds to increase your marketing power. Contact us today to discuss our approach.

*Center for Experimental Consumer Psychology, Bangor University, Wales, 2009.