Has print really had it’s day and can digital really live forever?
In spite of the massive surge in digital communications, social media platforms and increased marketing personalisation, print continues to be a critical part of companies’ cross media marketing and communication mix.
Consumers or customers want choice and this requires a multi-channel communications delivery process or what is now referred to as cross media marketing.
I endeavour to promote print in the media mix I believe it continues to play an important role in our everyday lives. Some people enjoy reading in the digital world others like reading the printed word because it is tangible, personal and has fewer distractions.
Whether print remains or becomes extinct, newspapers, books, magazines and catalogues will no longer be the primary means of interacting with its audience in a profitable way.
When the digital world gained momentum print was always going to be impacted with reduced volumes. The rise in digital printing allowed companies to order highly personalised printed matter from 1-50 or whatever the printed job required.
Print isn’t dead, not yet, but the reality is digital offers many advantages such as speed, flexibility, search-ability, target specific, customisation, interaction and direct.
It can be updated minute by minute and change according to what is in the news making it always up to date unlike its print contemporaries.
Digital reduces the overall cost to practically zero when compared to the production and printing of a magazine therefore how can print compete with ‘free’?
Marketers are already targeting their audiences online because it is cheaper and easier to deliver to market than print is; which involves design, content, production, proofing, finally print and distribution.
By the time the print job is complete it’s most likely to be out of date making digital a more attractive proposition for companies and marketing departments.
Digital affords the opportunity to engage with the audience online which is something print can’t do.
Technology and connectivity will advance and accessibility to online content will be an everywhere experience.
But I’d be surprised if print ever really goes away completely. Paper will survive because of the content it can provide to its viewer and because of the importance it has to play in the marketers’ cross media marketing campaign.
Online content is only part of the readers experience it doesn’t engage in the same way as reading a book or magazine.
Print is physical and is potent; pictures, text, strap lines, information that you can carry around with you in the form or a book, magazine, newspaper or cut out a relevant bit of information for keeping.
You can do the same in the digital world but it’s not quite the same and then of course there’s making the time to read it.
The role of content is changing people who are reading online need to read content that is informative, engaging and useful without feeling like they are being sold to.
Print, in this environment is becoming more powerful offering an alternative way to connect with the consumer in a world full of distractions.
Print is important for a higher level of personal engagement and not necessarily needed in the communications marketing mix all of the time.
To quickly illustrate, whilst schmoozing around a very well known top end car manufacturer franchise, because I happen to love cars, I overheard one of the salesman talking to potential customers who had requested a brochure.
Eavesdropping on the conversation the couple were interested in a particular model, they’d practically made up their minds what they wanted and had requested a brochure of the model to take home so they could decide their final colour/selection choices.
The salesman responded ‘ we don’t have printed brochures anymore, but you can download what you need from our website’.
I wasn’t surprised by the response from the couple, ‘seriously you expect me to spend £40K+ on one of your cars and the car manufacturer cant be bothered to provide a glossy brochure for me to take home?’
Digital can’t provide that glossy magazine that the couple wanted. I don’t know if they went back and bought the car but the point I thought was well made, print still has it’s place in this world.
If the couple had left with their brochure, a connection in the real world would have been made and at worst the salesman would have at least taken their details with a view to messaging them and further engaging until they did buy the car.
What is the future of print?
Marketing will continue to become even more multi-channel and as marketers become ever more savvy, print is likely to remain the channel that provides the first touch point before the consumer moves into the digital world.
A good marketing campaign will include print as part of it’s overall cross media marketing package.
Booklets, catalogues, magazines, newspapers can easily be electronically formatted for online viewing on tablets, mobiles and smartphones allowing additional tools such as embedded audio, video, links and other interactive content, something that print can’t do often before the ink is dry on the paper.
But if you are pondering on buying a new car or, you are deliberating over that kitchen you’ve always wanted there’s nothing like a nice glossy brochure to walk out of the showroom with.