LeAnn Wilson McGuire Writing her Right Brain column

Right Brain

Is print still a part of your marketing plan? More and more often, we’re hearing the phrase “print is dead” and, as a result, we’re seeing a change in the way marketers perceive printed materials – approaching them with caution instead of excitement. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of skepticism. Compared to the digital world, which provides clear data to prove – or disprove – its effectiveness, print can seem like an unnecessary risk. But, the truth is, print offers certain things that digital doesn’t, so a good marketing strategy will often include both.

So how do you know when print is the right move? Here are three reasons you might consider print in your marketing strategy.

  1. PRINT MAKES AN IMPRESSION

Digital offers a lot of design freedom, including the ability to make your ad/content/website interactive. But at the end of the day, you can’t hold it, touch it or feel it. Receiving something real (read: tangible) from a brand can make the brand itself seem more real, increasing credibility and establishing trust. That’s one reason print is still a popular medium when it comes to collateral and sales materials, like brochures and proposals. Plus, textured paper, embossed letters and die-cuts can be used in unexpected ways to elevate the brand and increase perceived value. These small touches might add to your production costs, but they can also be the differentiating factor that sets you apart from the competition.

Print also has the potential to last longer than its digital counterparts. The better the design, the longer the shelf life. The idea that something is too cool to throw away is a powerful motivation for people to keep and share your collateral. A creative email might be squirreled away in a “keep” folder in someone’s inbox, but an awesome direct mail piece might sit on someone’s desk or hang on someone’s fridge as a daily reminder.

  1. PRINT REACHES YOUR AUDIENCE

Sometimes, your target audience requires print. For example, if you’re promoting a retirement community and your target audience is more likely to walk to the end of their driveways and check the mail than to log on to Instagram and check their feeds, direct mail is a better option. Or, if you have an extremely niche B2B audience and the best trade publication in your sphere is print-only, it’s worth exploring.

If you’re concerned about print because you’ve become accustomed to the trackability of digital, fear not. It’s better to reach your audience without measurable results than to never reach your audience at all.

  1. PRINT GIVES YOU LEVERAGE

We’d all love to think that the only consideration that goes into media planning is the impact an ad will have. In reality, when you put together a media plan you’re making business deals. Negotiations with the media can often make or break your strategy, and sometimes you’ve got to butter them up to get what you want. One print ad can go a long way in negotiations, especially with publications that depend heavily on their print advertisement revenue.

When it makes sense (the print publication has great circulation, reaches your target audience, etc.), print can clear the pathway to a great partnership with your desired media company. At worst, your print spend will help with brand awareness and give you a price break for some of the digital options you’re interested in. At best, it can lead to a lasting partnership that increases your brand’s editorial coverage or gives your brand priority in testing new digital ad formats as the publication expands its offerings.

Digital can be cheaper, more trackable and more highly-targeted than print. But don’t discount print just yet. Ultimately, the print vs. digital debate comes down to your goals. Consider the situation – from the desired impact to the audience to the politics – and give print a fair chance because it may be just what your brand needs.