Is Print Dead?

Posted on November 17, 2015 by David Yovich


Trade Magazine Advertising


If you talk to printers, magazines, and even newspapers print is making a surge. But at the same time printers have invested in digital presses for shorter runs, magazines push their website banner ads, and newspapers tout the in-app advertising capabilities. Which begs the question, is print dead? No, print is not dead. It’s simply redefined.

Advertising and marketing is more then communicating a message, it’s the ability to effectively communicate a message that not only resonates with the target audience, but has the opportunity to be heard.

The perception of direct mailers with many clients is that they are old, expensive, and ineffective tactics in today’s modern age of digital. But, direct mailers were more ineffective 15 years ago when mailboxes where full of junk mail. Today, direct mailers have more of an ability to break through the noise then email blasts. On average, email campaigns produce a .01% response rate, compared to the 3.7% produced by direct mailers (DMA Response Rate Report 2015). However, direct mailers are more expensive, harder to track, and take a high effort of deployment. Direct mailers work, but only as a part of your overall mixed media marketing approach and never as a stand-alone strategy.

Although PDF’s existed since the early 1990’s, it was in the late 90’s when printers started to really worry. PDF’s allowed companies to discard expensive print runs and deliver catalogs, brochures, and anything else in a PDF format downloadable on their website or other delivery means. Fast forward to today, with the addition of responsive websites, mobile applications, and the accessibility of video, why would any company need a brochure? Print is tangible. A brochure is something that can be held and information disseminated independent of a screen. There is an automatic perceived value with a brochure. It can be filed, stacked in a pile, or sat on a corner of a desk for easy reference later. Just as in direct mailers, it should only be a part of the overall mixed media. The choice between revamping the website or developing a brochure is easy, the website. Large runs that print salesman push in order to save a few dollars on the per-piece run is as obsolete as the brochures will be in one or two years. When thinking about brochures it is important that the brochure is designed with the big picture. The brand/product imagery, unique selling points, easy to scan bullet points, limited reference data, and should direct viewers to the website for specifics.

Print ads don’t work, unless it’s a trade magazine, local magazine, or a highly specific consumer magazine. All of which are very effective. Trade magazines are a phenomenal marketing resource. They cover topics your costumers want to read, which translates to high readership. More and more companies are shifting to trade web advertising and minimizing the print buys to cut cost. This is a mistake. A solid media placement mix, which includes trade print, is a must. Web banners do not have the brand impact like a print campaign.

Trade magazines offer direct emails, newsletter sponsorship, and a variety of other digital marketing services, but the print ads are king. Print trade ads reinforce the brand/company message your sales force is touting to the market.

Consumer magazines are a much different story. National consumer magazine print ads are a budget drainer, which should be replaced with strategies that produce higher effectiveness in both performance and cost. With one exception, highly targeted national consumer publications, such as Woodworking Magazine if you sell products to woodworkers or Classic Car Magazine if you specialize in selling replica and aftermarket parts. National magazine advertising can also be replaced with local lifestyle magazines, which produce higher readerships, better engagement, and a much more targeted approach.

Consumer magazine print ads have their place, but effective implementation must take different creative approaches.

Print is not dead, but the old methods of implementing print are. Print does not offer measurable statistical results such as digital, but never underestimate the branding power of print.



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