Where does print fit in 2018 and can it still benefit us?

Adam Burrage | Managing Partner at Trident

11th Janary 2018

It’s 28 years since the internet was invented, and during that time print has been touted to be coming to the end time and again. In my 13 years in the marketing world, print has certainly changed in the way that people are using it, and I do recall people telling me in my junior years that print wasn’t going to last for more than the next five years.

Does this mean it’s going to keep going down until it vanishes from the face of the earth? Is print dead like so many people preach. Certainly not, but it definitely makes up a smaller percentage of most marketing budgets today than it once did, but it’s still there and it still has its place if used correctly and cleverly.

Younger execs definitely prefer digital as it’s what they have grown up with. It’s ever developing and can be interacted with at the touch of a finger, so they’re more likely to gravitate to spending budget in digital. On top of the ease of use, it is also easier to measure and adapt quickly if you find that your messaging isn’t working properly. Print is almost certainly more expensive when you compare price per impressions, and postage will drive up the costs to reach your audience if you’re sending direct mail. But print isn’t just about mass audiences anymore and it can be effective when combining it with other elements of the mix.

Does this mean that we should forget print and move all of our marketing spend over to digital?

It would be easy to decide to move more of your marketing budget over to digital, and ignore print altogether, but I think by doing that you’re missing a trick and here’s why. In the modern era a lot of us get very little physical mail, and we’ve become desensitised to adverts in the digital space – there’s so many of them that we don’t click as much as we used to. In fact, it needs to be from a really trusted sender for us to open an email and take action, such is the fear of cybercrime and security. Simply put, people generally don’t have the same level of trust in digital communications as much as they do in the physical world.

Print can be so much more personal. With the right project and strategy, you can appeal to all the senses. Touch, taste and smell can all be part of your considerations in creative design not to mention including sound and of course, creating visually pleasing design. After all, we are initially drawn in with our eyes but why wouldn’t we consider a richer and deeper experience rather than just being atheistically pleasing or catching user attention with clever animation.

If we receive something in the mail, especially something which is more personalised, or read an advert in the physical sense, we’re actually more likely to take action. This is because there’s more tangible enjoyment from print and physically receiving something that you can’t get from a digital communication. Think how much nicer it feels to get a good birthday card that resonates with you, compared with a simple text message wishing you happy birthday!

Here are some other reasons why print can add value to your marketing:

Millennials respond well to direct mail.

Recent studies have suggested that of all age groups, millennials respond well to DM, and they get less of it than non-millennials. The USPS study found that 40% of millennials actually read their direct mail, compared to 17% of non-millennials, and as they don’t get much mail, they look forward to checking for their mail! The study also found that they trust the mail more than something they read online, so bringing your brand to the physical world can break down barriers to access this audience.

If used with a strong call to action to visit a website or download an app this can drive great returns compared to using just digital alone. It’s this combination of the tangible communications and the digital world that drives engagement and maximises the effect of the campaign success.

Print can do things that digital cannot

Written by Adam Burrage

Managing Partner at Trident

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