technology continues to develop—and change the way we do
business—many have considered print a dead medium and online
marketing the wave of the future. Nevertheless, the print industry
is far from dead; in fact, print marketing has only continued to
grow and evolve alongside the upsurge of new technology.
Direct mail continues to be used heavily, with a 43% share of total
local retail advertising. And, according to a Pitney Bowes survey,
76% of small businesses say their ideal marketing strategy
encompasses a combination of both print and digital communication.
There are many reasons why print is (and will remain) an effective
tool for delivering your message to your audiences.
Although variable printing is by no means a new process, consumers
have been using it with more frequency as advancements in printing
technology have lowered the cost. Variable printing allows you to
uniquely customize each piece of media by changing certain elements
from piece to piece, taking advantage of the power of complex
For example, you could run a mailer campaign and personalize each
postcard with the name of the recipient, or create unique coupons
with individual serial numbers so that you can track which customers
used them. When this technique is used with variable images, for
example, you could create a series of assorted business cards, each
with a different photo background.
Personalized print media has a more powerful presence than a
personalized email, because the audience can recognize that it takes
more effort to customize print media than digital. Accordingly, the
audience feels special because of what is a personal touch often
lacking in traditional print marketing.
QR Codes and
As our smartphone and tablet technologies continue to grow and
develop, so too has the interactivity of print media.
It used to be that the only way to advertise your Web presence via
print was to include the URL and hope that the audience took the
time to type it into a browser. Nowadays, QR codes and NFC
technology make it possible for your print media to directly connect
customers to your website.
QR codes can be customized with colors and patterns to better
integrate into your print marketing designs and to give you the
opportunity to add branded elements.
NFC (near-field communication) is a new technology that is not
available in all devices, but it is sure to replace QR codes down
the line. NFC technology uses a tiny microchip to send a signal
directly to your mobile device without the need for scanning. Tap
the print media against your mobile device, and the NFC chip will
instantly connect you to the website.
These technologies can also be used in more creative ways than
simply connecting your audience to a website. They can be used to
distribute files, play videos, or activate augmented reality
features that encourage your audience to explore and engage, as well
as share with others.
Social networking has become an integral part of the way
entrepreneurs reach their customers, but the idea of networking has
been around much longer than Facebook and Twitter. After all, what's
a business card if not a social medium? When you hand a potential
customer or business relation a business card, you're making a
social connection with that person and giving them the means to do
the same with you.
Social media can also be fully integrated with any print marketing
strategy or campaign. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a
business card from a serious entrepreneur without his or her
Facebook address, Twitter address, or other social networking URL
printed on it. (Slightly over half of respondents to a Nielsen
survey said they used a social media advertising campaign in
conjunction with print media.)
Though some designers unfortunately make tragic mistakes when
working with print and social media, the two often share a symbiotic
relationship: print media help to draw attention to your social
media sites, and your social media profiles can be used to
strengthen your print campaign.
By adding customer comments and testimonials from your social
networking profiles to your print designs, you can make your print
marketing that much more effective.
Marketing Is Used Less, so It Stands Out More
Many companies are competing online for their audience's attention,
which can make it hard to stand out in the crowd. However, since
online marketing tends to be the focus of most businesses, a void is
left in print marketing that is begging to be filled.
Compared with how often and how quickly you check your email,
consider the daily ritual of going to the mailbox and checking your
postal mail. You set aside a few moments to take the time to look at
every piece of mail before going back to whatever it was you were
doing before. That means your print materials are likely to receive
extra attention—especially if they look unique:
Research from the US Postal Service indicates that most who receive
direct mail advertising pay attention to it; households report that
they tend to respond to about 1 in 10 pieces of direct mail. An
International Communications Research survey found that 73% of
consumers actually prefer mail over other advertising methods. And
according to Research by Mail Print, 85% of consumers sort and read
their snail mail on a daily basis, and 40% try new businesses after
receiving direct mail.
No matter how crucial digital marketing becomes, there is still a
large audience you can reach through print marketing and direct mail
Print Is More
Than Just Paper Products
The doomsayers who perpetuate print marketing myths regarding the
"death of print" often forget that print media extends well beyond
your typical paper products, such as business cards, brochures, and
presentation folders. Print media can include promotional drinkware,
magnets, stickers, pens, keychains, coasters, or even apparel such
as T-shirts and buttons.
tend to be thought of as gifts, not marketing collateral, so your
audience is more likely to hold on to them for longer, helping to
build your brand familiarity and create a stronger impression with
your audience. In fact, according to the Advertising Specialty
Institute, 84% of Americans retain a company's name when they
receive promotional gifts with that company's logo on it.
If it's an inanimate object, there's a good chance it can be
emblazoned with your brand's logo and integrated into your marketing
campaign. The items don't even have to be something that your
audience takes home with them to make an impression: You could, for
example, use branded napkins and cups at a gala dinner, or display a
promotional banner on your podium while giving a presentation.
Least-expensive Cost per Impression
Small businesses need more bang for their buck, which is why a low
cost per impression (or CPI) is essential for running an effective
marketing campaign—one that can reach the greatest number people at
as low a cost as possible.
In fact, according to the Advertising Specialties Study, the most
popular promotional items, such as pens, shirts, and caps, have an
average CPI of $0.002—lower than the average for online marketing,
which tends to be $0.0025 per impression.
A 2010 study by the Direct Marketing Association found that $1.00
spent on print advertising expenditures can generate an average of
$12.57 in sales. That high return ratio was found to be universal
across all industries: No matter what business you are in, print is
still an effective medium for creating sales and generating revenue,
especially as premium printing techniques continue to evolve.
Although print marketing can lead to success, it doesn't guarantee
it. You still need to develop an effective print strategy that will
put your brand in the spotlight and excite your audience. If you use
the same, boring print materials as everyone else, you will have a
hard time making your mark.
Get creative, put some real thought and effort into your print
marketing collateral, and make use of all the tools and technologies
available to you.