Now firmly into the digital age, it is fair to say that digital had become the cornerstone of the modern marketer’s toolkit and has irreversibly altered the landscape within which we operate. And yet print has not completely died out, as many industry experts suspected that it might, following the radio and humble product brochure along the road of decline in popularity and usefulness. This week we’re exploring why print has managed to maintain a role in modern marketing and looking into how marketers can use the platform to best effect.
Print has declined
In order to understand this phenomenon and the remaining relevance of print, it is important to recognise the fact that there has been a shift away from print in general, with some aspects of the industry suffering significantly and some remaining resilient.
According to Forbes, ‘print advertising is naturally seeing a sharp decline due to the rise of digital.’ Publishing Executive likewise argued that the print industry is lacking in innovation and still overly-reliant on outdated marketing methods, and using TIME magazine as an examples argued that ‘a peak at just about any recent issue will tell you that TIME has long passed. You can see why analysts estimate the print product is losing millions of dollars annually. And the trends are not favourable, with ad pages for U.S. consumer magazines apparently declining by a double-digit percentage last year.’
This does not make print irrelevant
And yet despite these difficult figures and calls of an industry in decline, looking at the situation from another angle it is possible to argue that print has in fact remained resilient in the face of competition. Even having acknowledged the decline in print, Forbes believes that ‘there are still channels where print not only makes sense, but can engage audiences more effectively due to its secure and intimate nature.’ As a result, marketers shouldn’t underestimate ‘the power of combining digital and print media’ and must simply devise a strategy which builds upon the strengths of both platforms.
Marketing Week recently argued that despite figures indicating a decline in magazine advertising, ‘magazines still play an important role in many brands’ media mix, and advertisers and publishers are finding new ways of working together.’ These new avenues primarily focus on integrated editorial partnerships, as opposed to simply well-placed creative in the right publication. Innovative ideas have included ‘native in-mag content’, magazine wraps and even partnered pop-up stores between brand and magazine and are just some of the ways that marketers have been pushing a dualistic strategy.
How can you build an effective print strategy?
Building on these insights, it seems that integration, collaboration and partnerships are the best way for marketers to create a healthy balance between print and digital marketing platforms.
- Employ print where it has an edge
Print still retains some benefits over digital, and knowing where and when to capitalise upon these benefits means you can put the platform to the best use for your strategy. For example, MarketingProfs provides a useful infographic demonstrating the benefits of print, among them the fact that ‘physical print ads are easier for our brains to process than digital,’ with 70% of people having a higher recall for print advertisements. Despite the conceived wisdom that the digital-native generation are dismissive of print, their infographic shows that a staggering 92% of 18-23 year olds find it easier to concentrate on printed content.
- Use cloud tech to print locally, on an international scale
An interesting development in the print industry that has come about as a direct result of the rise of digital is that printing has gone global. According to an article by Marketing Tech News, ‘cloud technology has enabled global companies to efficiently print locally for the first time. Platforms can connect print houses around the world – sharing-economy style – via a ‘print cloud.’
By saving what can often be extortionate costs in freight and customs taxes and weeks in shipping and logistics time, marketers can now have print materials created in the relevant country by using modern technology. Marketing Tech News sees this development as vital, as it means that ‘suddenly an industry that has been around for hundreds of years is becoming extremely agile’ and therefore more fit for the demands of modern marketing.
- Blend digital opt-ins with direct mail
According to International Data Group’s online magazine CIO, there is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between digital media and direct mail which is inefficient and disjointed, but ‘by learning how to maximize these interchanges, you can elevate the return from both ends.’
Arguing that there is something satisfying and meaningful about holding a tangible piece of print marketing in your hands, as opposed to finding what is likely the same information online, CIO suggests ‘getting people to opt-in to receive your direct mail catalogue through a digital campaign and then use the predictability of direct mail to drive other aspects of your online campaign.’ Because of the measurability and recurring nature of direct mail, it is possible to active digital touchpoints at optimal times, drive useful and reliable analytics and further integrate an omni-channel strategy.
While the days of complete reliance on print may be over, to declare the platform ineffective or even dead is to ignore a number of important opportunities to reach wider audiences and imbue your strategy with a deeper meaning than a purely digital approach.