Outdated. Expensive. Unnecessary. Ask an inbound-only marketer their opinion on the benefits of print collateral spend, and these are the words you might hear in response.

Meanwhile, marketers who see the bigger picture are using creative, conceptual literature to create a lasting impression - taking their brand message a step further to engage through a physical form. With digital channels becoming the prevalent marketing medium, there are moments when a high-touch piece of print collateral can make a surprisingly profound impact. It’s worth pausing for a moment to consider this in terms of your marketing mix.

Why? Because we all appreciate the feel and tactile nature of print literature for the same reason we read (actual!) books or take handwritten notes in meetings. Paper is ingrained in society as a shared tool and experience, dating back to the earliest civilizations that used woven papyrus as a writing surface.

We see billions of pixels on our screens each day - and this sense of ‘digital overload’ dilutes the impact and individuality of even the most unique design. A balance is needed. Seeing a brochure as a PDF on screen doesn’t deliver the same tactile fulfilment and emotional response as holding that very same brochure in your hand. It’s that special ‘something’, the wow factor, that creatives think about when designing a printed piece or series that will make your audience sit up and take notice.

But let’s be clear; as we talk up the marketing value of printed materials, we’re referring only to those that are unique, thoughtful and creative. A printed folder with a few inserts does not qualify as impactful collateral. If you’re going to invest hard-fought marketing budget in print, make it amazing. Make it memorable. Give it an edge. Think sizes, shapes, finishes and other details that will make your piece more valuable than the paper it is printed on. Consumer packaging can be a great source of inspiration for example.

Print collateral builds and strengthens relationships. It shows that you have spent considerable time, money and creative thought on something of value to give away. It can only build and strengthen your brand. After a meeting, leave your printed literature to influence a buying decision; a well designed piece of print reinforces your brand by keeping you “front of mind” in the same vein as email or social media marketing — only your content is actually on their desk (which can be seen and shared by anyone in the office) where they work instead of buried in their inbox or social feed.

Print has a place in the return of traditional marketing
So is print literature dead? No! Although clearly in many cases it has been superseded in marketing budgets as the race to successfully perform on the plethora of digital channels becomes the de-facto thinking. There are many sectors and industries such as the legal and financial services market place that are heavily reliant on printed literature (not just regulatory). Secondly, there is a genuine resurgence of print-centric, traditional marketing that has been gaining popularity and proving what we already know – print is alive and kicking.

Direct Mail marketing took a nosedive in 2009 and then resurfaced as a competitive marketing channel with a significant, 3.1% rise in adoption between 2013 and 2017. The comeback of direct mail is heavily attributed to the tangibility aspect of holding an item versus simply seeing it on screen, coupled with its superior conversion rates and easy to track ROI.

Print advertising
The power of print advertising remains extremely strong as a trust-building traditional marketing tactic because print is the most trusted advertising source when making a purchasing decision. This was revealed through a survey released several months ago that shocked many by its findings. However, when you think about advertising, it makes sense. A digital ad is here for a moment and gone with a click. Print ads by virtue of what they want to accomplish have always been one of the best uses of art and design to convey brand messages.

Creativity as a differentiator
A joint research project between Forrester and Adobe revealed that 82% of companies believe there is a strong correlation between creativity and achieving desired business results. This thinking isn’t new; it’s simply gaining more attention lately as companies strive to differentiate in the complex and saturated online world.

Traditional + Digital marketing mix – it’s a win-win
The great thing about print media is that it can still have an interactive effect, connecting with digital media through customer engagement. In fact, reaching your audience with a considered mix of traditional and digital offerings is often easier than trying to reach them in a purely digital way.

What’s next?
As a highly experienced creative agency we’re here to help untangle the complex marketing mix and develop a strategic way forward for your brand – on and offline, inbound and outbound. Want to know more? Talk to us on 01256 310900 or email James Goodwyn.

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