Marketing Center

The power of print

Finding new potential in an old medium.

The Internet tends to thrive on loud headlines – you know, like “Print is Dead.” But those clickbait messages often aren’t successful at conveying nuance, resonance, or authority. To accomplish that, marketers are turning to an old, forgotten friend: print.

To be clear, the old era of print is dead – the time when print enjoyed monolithic, world’s-greatest-medium status. But even in the digital era, print has proven to be remarkably effective, not as a single-channel solution but as a component of an integrated campaign. For evidence of the enduring power of print, just look at the numbers. People are still reading print publications: 169 million Americans still read newspapers regularly, and three-fourths of that group reads the print edition specifically, according to a 2016 Nielsen report. Additionally, marketers continue to invest heavily in print – they mailed 10.6 million catalogs in 2015, according to the Data and Marketing Association.

Print is sticking around in part because it’s just that – sticky. Consumers engage more with printed ads, and remember them better than digital ones, according a 2015 study by Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making.

To use print wisely requires an evolved understanding of an old medium. Success requires understanding:

  • The role that print plays within a larger, integrated campaign

  • The sorts of messages that are best suited to print

  • How digital tools can make print marketing more effective.

Print plays its part

Print has some advantages over digital media. It is physical, which means that it must be handled, literally. And it has staying power: Advertisements in newspapers and magazines remain in readers’ hands for as long as they possess the publication. For what print lacks in potential for an instantaneous response, it makes up in longevity and tactile share-ability, according to a 2015 assessment by the American Marketing Association. Print ads thus are well suited to high-level marketing aims such as establishing brand worthiness and can act as standard-bearing, tent pole elements within a larger campaign.

Finding what’s fit to print

Print can seem more exclusive, compared to digital, due to the costs of printing and distribution. That can give printed content a premium, authoritative feel that corresponds well with brands looking to convey their own quality and expertise. Complement editorial content with relevant (or better yet, value-adding) ads to enhance the brand-building potential of print. That sort of careful content alignment is a particular strength of print advertising, compared to the algorithmic matchmaking of Internet ad exchanges.

Print meets high-tech

Just because print is an old-school medium doesn’t mean you can’t use high-tech tools to make your marketing more effective. Audience segmentation can help you target your ad spend more efficiently. Variable printing – the practice of swapping out content to better align with specific segments – can add relevance to your direct marketing. You can also use tools such as QR codes and vanity URLs to track response.

Everything about the Internet is fast, from the time it takes you to reach your customers to the time it takes them to move onto the next thing. If you’d like to connect with them on a deeper level, consider investing in an old medium that still packs a punch: print.