Sit in on any webinar about small business marketing and you’ll probably encounter a litany of tips on websites, social media, email, mobile messaging, and other electronic media. Print? Not so much. But that has begun to change.
With the rise of the internet, many gurus heralded the death of print marketing. After all, online marketing is cheaper, easier, and faster, so why use anything else? But fast-forward to today, and print is back in a big way, for several reasons.
- Tactile experiences: With so many communications and services transitioning to the web, fewer and fewer brands are engaging the sense of touch … and people are starting to yearn for those tactile experiences.
- Online overload: From the moment they wake up to the moment they fall asleep, people are bombarded with electronic messages, from emails to text messages to blinking smartphone notifications, and many are feeling overloaded.
- Lower competition: Many brands — probably including some of your competitors — have pivoted to online-only marketing strategies, which means print marketing now represents an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
- A more focused experience: Any online experience is fraught with distractions, from notifications to banner ads to popups. Print media offers a more peaceful, focused experience in which the audience can devote 100 percent of their attention to your message.
- A lasting presence: Digital ads are here one second, gone the next without a moment’s thought, and people tend to read emails with a finger poised over the delete key. Print marketing, on the other hand, has a physical presence which recipients are likely to think twice about before discarding.
Still not convinced that print is worth the time and effort? Let’s look at a few more driving factors.
Millennials Love Print Media
If you think this print-media renaissance is being driven by nostalgic Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, think again.
While Millennials grew up in an always-online, always-connected world, they also grew up with an awareness of the dangerous, deceptive, and annoying aspects of the web: viruses, popup ads, phishing scams, the list goes on. They are well aware that the ease, ready availability, and low cost of online marketing makes it open to any organization, no matter how sketchy, and they therefore developed a healthy sense of skepticism towards online advertisers.
Print, however, represents an investment of time, money, effort, and expertise — investments that only brands of a certain caliber are willing and able to make. Millennials are well aware of this differentiator, and they are responding. According to a recent study,
- More than half of millennials surveyed admit they ignore online advertising.
- 82 percent read direct mail.
- 54 percent look forward to receiving print catalogs.
- 70 percent used grocery retail inserts and coupons in the past month.
Nostalgic Print Catalogs Are New Again
What do retailers IKEA, Amazon, and Neiman Marcus have in common? They’re all making major investments in their print catalogs. Consumers are receiving fewer catalogs than in the past, but the nostalgic tradition of print catalogs is keeping the tradition alive. In a multi-channel marketing world, direct mail is making a comeback not as a standalone marketing channel, but as a strategy to reach consumers at multiple touch points.
This Isn’t Your Mama’s Direct Mail Marketing
While direct mail is one of the oldest marketing tactics around, brands are approaching it in a whole new way. Marketers have available to them a wealth of high-quality, highly specified data, enabling them to target and personalize their direct-mail campaigns as never before.
This precision approach to marketing is yielding positive results. According to a 2017 study by the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail achieves a 5.1% response rate with a house list, and a 2.9% response rate with a prospect list. By contrast, all digital channels combined only achieve a 2% response rate.
How to Tap Into the Print-Marketing Renaissance
If you’re ready to tap into the benefits of print marketing, it’s best to begin slowly with limited-scope test campaigns, then analyze your results and adjust your strategy as needed. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Create a highly targeted, personalized direct-mail campaign to a small number of high-value addresses as a test case. Remember to measure and evaluate your results.
- Research local magazines that target your specific market and experiment with some print advertising.
- If a comprehensive print catalog isn’t in your budget, consider a scaled-down version that focuses on new or seasonal offerings.
- Remember that part of the appeal of print is the tactile experience. Depending on your product consider sending a free sample in the mailing. Experiment with sending highly visible promos like a free sample of a soft touch imprinted pen — to ramp up your brand impressions.
In a world where everything seems to be online, more audiences are responding to the tactile, focused experience of quality print marketing. Explore the options available to you and uncover new opportunities for re-engaging your existing customers, attracting new ones, and taking your brand image to a whole new level.