To print or not to print

By November 24, 2013Print
the death of print?

Leaflets, brochures, catalogues, postcards, prospectuses, posters…remember these? The print and distribution of such collateral was marketing as we always knew it – not a HTML or Flash advert in sight. How times have changed eh?

Discussions of print deadlines, stock, finish, printer’s proofs and delivery dates dominated communications meetings from Manchester to Munich, Mumbai to Madrid, however in this age of emails and websites the need to have something tangible to sell your products no longer applies…or does it? To print or not to print?

There’s no doubt that online marketing offers good returns with infinite reach at a relatively low cost, along with highly efficient ways to monitor, track and evaluate. This in turn provides evidence and justification when it comes to agreeing on what to budget for next time around.

So where does this leave the good ol’ high gloss, A5, 300gsm, full colour, double-sided flyer?

Surely this, along with its larger, different-shaped cousins is now a redundant way to promote a service or product? If you listen carefully, you can probably hear your local printers sobbing as they throw darts at the face of Tim Berners-Lee (what do you mean who?).

If you were to analyse the marketing budgets of most companies you’ll be sure to find that the column headed ‘Print’ will have a figure closer to £0 in it than £100,000, while the opposite could probably be said for the column marked ‘Digital’. For versatile designers like myself this doesn’t represent a massive issue so long as you’ve got the capacity to create websites, HTML emails, web banners, logos etc.

Successful companies embrace print design

However, I don’t want to see printed marketing material vanish from the face of the earth. I don’t want it to go the same way as vinyl, cassettes, mini-disks or even CDs for that matter, with the odd back-street shop proudly displaying quaint Argos catalogues from the 1980s or a range of flyers posted through the letterboxes of St Helens homes between 1974 and 1977.

Companies DO need to print things as, believe it or not, people still like to leaf through a brochure or take a flyer away from a meeting. It helps you to differentiate too. Everyone sends emails out, blogs and advertises on websites, so to have a killer catalogue would represent a refreshing change. If you can manage to personalise it too – and these days, EVERYTHING can be personalised – then you’re well on your way to securing a sale.

But stats, I need stats!

says the Google Analytics marketing obsessive.
Well, here’s a few that might interest you

  • Eight out of 10 households read or scan the advertising mail they receive
  • Over one-third of customers tried a business for the first time because of direct mail advertising
  • Printed catalogues compel some 60% of consumers to make purchases at least 4 times a year
  • Two-thirds of online searches are initiated by a printed item

Surely reason enough to reinstate print into the marketing mix? I would argue that it makes more sense to have a strong, consistent presence across all platforms and media rather than simply dismissing print marketing as a dying art.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Stuart Walton says:

    Well said sir. The proof of the pudding will be aired soon. The leaflets you expertly designed are winging their way to letterboxes tomorrow onwards. If something is high quality, in digital or print, I will invest time in reading it yes. I agree, within a budget, it probably comes low down marketing priorities. But we shouldn’t forget the power of something tangible, something to hold and look at. Perhaps direct marketing is due a resurgence – a bit like vinyl which is so sought after at the moment.

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