Print was the absolute advertising hero for decades until it died. Really? While on the low level, advertising agencies are discussing whether the print is dead or not, content marketers understood print is still having a share in channel targeting. Even more than that – it has become a differentiation factor and big opportunity for brands.
Social media, online articles and content, emailing and smartphone apps, digital affiliate and loyalty strategies are all part of the marketing mix nowadays. The digital transformation in communications dematerialised the sales copy for many businesses, providing better coverage, engagement, costs optimisation and efficiency measurement. However, it is becoming the norm to a point where the young generation of content marketers is looking for something “new”. It is hard to believe – the hardcopy is new again.
Is print dying, surviving, or booming?
Print is dead, where it shouldn’t exist in the digital era – the mass media. No one is surprised to learn that the printed newspaper industry is in critical decline. Printed magazines subscriptions and sales have been declining for several years as readers find their content online. Their ad revenues has plunged hard since the financial crisis in 2008 and never recovered. This is actually a great shift, as internet provides much better, energy and resources efficient medium for publishing news and one-day-lasting content. Thousands of tonnes of paper were spared from transforming into ephemeral magazines and newspapers.
Here are the losers:
- Magazines and newspapers. Those having added value transformed in digital subscription content providers, others in blogs. Some are still surviving in printed form because of great content and hard-core fans.
- Product catalogues. It was a time when every company was issuing a catalogue or a printed price list. I remember Otto and Quelle in Germany having a new 1000 pages catalogue each trimester. Those are still printed in many niche sectors, however the global volume shrunk by 70%.
- Many types of internal and external corporate communication and documentation. The paperless workflow imposed new standards in invoicing, publishing annual reports, etc.
Mature and stable:
- Brochures and printed sales tools.
- Mailing. For many businesses, having an online presence is not enough, either because their industry is very saturated, or because their customers won’t use digital media to find them. We had recently a SEO/social media project for start-up in the home cleaning. After trying to gain visibility online and failed miserably, a local mailing campaign finally kicked-off the orders.
- Leaflets for fast moving goods and promotions.
- Point of sales advertising
- Large formats / external advertising
- Event communication
- Identity prints
Where is print number one ?
The physical world – packaging, external advertising, event advertising in targeted locations, point of sales, branding of physical objects, brochures and mailing. The print gives something that digital media cannot – it is tangible, you can touch it and feel it. Therefore print has high emotional impact and conversion value if combined with great graphic design, clever copywriting and careful selection of materials (paper type, vinyl, glass, …).
Print is not interactive, but it is relaxing. If you read a printed article you’ll get up to 60% more information compared to reading the same article on the screen. Ultimately it helps your customers to better understand, feel and connect with your message.
Print is dying in high volume mass media. Newspapers and magazines are shifting to a more ergonomic and efficient digital medium and this is a very positive trend for the planet.
Print is booming in areas where an immediate emotional impact may lead to conversion, like packaging, point of sales advertising, mailing and face-to-face communications. Although possible with current consumer technology, the VCF digital contact info won’t replace the business card on sales meetings anytime soon.