6 Reasons Why Print Marketing Is Thriving

A few years ago, you might have heard marketers claiming we were facing the end of an era for print. Online marketing is cheap, available to almost any business owner, and capable of reaching a global audience, so it seemed like the natural order of things for print marketing to die out. But this isn’t the case at all.

A few years ago, you might have heard marketers claiming we were facing the end of an era for print. Online marketing is cheap, available to almost any business owner, and capable of reaching a global audience, so it seemed like the natural order of things for print marketing to die out. But this isn’t the case at all.

Print advertising spending has dropped only slightly in the past several years, and is projected to remain stable at roughly $24 billion per year in 2021 and beyond. Business owners are still relying on print marketing to spread word about their businesses, despite the advantages of digital marketing strategies. But why is this the case?

Lower Costs

First, the cost of printing has dramatically decreased over the past couple of decades, thanks in part to the availability of online services. Printing a brochure online, for example, is much cheaper than printing one at your local office supply shop. That’s because printing companies have invested in new equipment that can operate much more efficiently, and rely on digital files and tools to facilitate more efficient production. This is especially true of higher-run orders, where businesses can decrease their per-unit price to absurdly low levels. Ultimately, this keeps printed advertising strategies in line with digital marketing strategies in terms of cost.

Higher Accessibility

Printed materials also are more accessible than they’ve ever been in the past, again thanks to the prevalence of online tools. Most major printing companies offer online platforms where business owners can create an account, log in, manage their ongoing materials, lay out exactly how they want their items to look, and order something new with the click of a button. Rather than dealing with a salesperson or trying to navigate the complex world of technical printing requirements, they can navigate thousands of options in a simple, consolidated interface. This makes print more appealing than ever.

Mutual Existence

Traditional advertising and online marketing aren’t mutually exclusive. Naysayers proclaiming the end of traditional marketing tactics tended to assume that if a business was spending $60,000 a year on print marketing materials, they would soon shift to spend $60,000 a year on online marketing strategies. But this hasn’t been the case; instead, businesses would often split their budgets, spending $40,000 on print marketing and $20,000 on new online strategies. In some cases, businesses would simply increase their total budget, retaining their $60,000 traditional spending and experimenting with an additional $20,000 for online techniques. The success of online marketing in no way overrules or negates the power of printed materials.

Consumer Preferences

It’s also important to note that not everyone prefers consuming material in a digital format. About 10% of the U.S. population doesn’t use the Internet, basically rendering them unreachable through digital means. In addition to that, some people either prefer or are more easily persuaded by material that comes to them in a printed format; for example, they may like flipping through the pages of a physical booklet rather than browsing through online pages.

This factor is somewhat dependent on your target demographics. If your audience strongly prefers printed materials, or is better influenced by them, there’s no reason to switch to digital marketing.

Local Visibility

Printed ads tend to be more approachable for local businesses; it’s easier to distribute printed flyers and booklets around a neighborhood than it is to climb the search engine rankings for keyword terms related to your city (though this may also be possible). Accordingly, new businesses trying to cater to a local population tend to favor traditional, print-based advertising methods.

New Techniques and Integrations

It should also be known that the world of print marketing today is very different than it was 20 years ago. New techniques, and new integrations with other marketing technologies make it much more versatile—and powerful. For example, thanks to digital lists and inventive printing techniques, you can customize your printed ads with the individual names of your intended recipients. You can also use QR codes or other tactics to send your printed ad recipients to an online or digital destination.

The Caveats

Of course, this isn’t to say that print marketing is a perfect strategy in the modern era, or that it should be favored over online marketing. There are a wide range of tactics available, in both digital and printed formats, and how your business performs depends not only on which tactics you choose, but how well you execute them. A good high-level strategy, backed with research and grounded in creativity, will always succeed more than a poorly planned one, regardless of the specific tactics used to execute them. Keep that in mind as you plan your next strategy—and how your campaigns might evolve in the future.

When Direct Mail Gets Digital, Brands Unite

In a world where 90% of brand contact can happen in digital channels, how you use print can be the difference between marketing wins and wasted money. Smart brands today are using digital print and direct mail to bring many of their online marketing techniques into the real world and their customers’ homes.

When Target Marketing started some 40 years ago (then called ZIP), direct mail was the smart marketer’s channel — the one where you could execute scientific marketing, measure results to a “gnat’s eyebrow,” and reasonably predict ROI on every effort. Times have changed, the world’s gone digital, and so has marketing. But print is evolving along with the rest of our digital world. Digital printing is a real thing, and the impact those technologies are having on direct mail is phenomenal.

In a world where 90% of brand contact can happen in digital channels, how you use print can be the difference between marketing wins and wasted money. Smart brands today are using digital print to bring many of their online marketing techniques into the real world and their customers’ homes.

We’ve been working with a sister publication, Brand United, to cover how brands are using these new technologies in their print marketing and direct mail. And we’ve covered some very interesting cases. Now we’re looking for more.

What Digital Print Marketing Can Achieve

You can click over to Brand United right not to see how brands are making an impact with digital print. Including:

How the luxury home goods brand Amara creates an award-winning customer experience through its personalized package inserts.

How the premium pet brand Mr. Dog uses print-on-demand, digitally customized packaging to bring its unique brand voice to consumers at home and on retail store shelves.

And how the Delta Group used a must-open digital direct mail piece to double response rate and increase the average donation by 40%.

In addition, the site is full of supporting “Pro Tip” articles that’ll show you how to get those kinds of results in your own marketing.

So, if you’re wondering why we talk about direct mail so much on Target Marketing, head over the Brand United to get a taste of everything you can do with today’s high-tech, digital printing and direct mail.

Got a Digital Print Story to Tell?

And if you’ve had success with these kinds of tactics yourself, we would love to hear from you!

Brand United is always on the lookout for new case studies about how brands are using these tactics to fuel their marketing success. If you’ve got a good story to tell around digital print and direct mail, send me an email at tmcgee@napco.com, and we’ll work on getting that onto Brand United.