Despite The Onion’s publishing print’s obituary back in 2013, print is, in fact, not dead. It has just evolved.
Just like when TV overtook radio for advertising dollars. Everyone thought that was the end of radio, but it wasn’t. In fact, radio advertising still makes up roughly 10% of the total US ad spend. It’s the same with any emerging technology: the new comes in and the old has to change to stay relevant.
But how does print adapt to this increasingly digital world? Now, more and more, print is being used in conjunction with digital media to help boost sales and provide better customer experiences. Here are three examples:
While websites are now the go-to place for large amounts of information, they can be kludgy and hard to navigate, particularly larger corporate sites. If you’re in a face-to-face sales meeting, or on the floor of a tradeshow, wouldn’t it be better to send a prospective client home with a printed piece that targets the subject of the meeting, versus handing out your business card with only the company’s website? The printed piece will be more targeted and can drive the prospective client to a specific place on the website, rather than leaving it up to the potential client to take the time to navigate the site to find the information on their own.
There are many web-to-print companies where you can upload a PDF and receive printed professional collateral in a matter of minutes. This can save not only time and money, but can also allow for content to be updated more frequently, using smaller print runs.
2. Traditional Direct Mail
Direct marketing continues to be a key part of marketing plans. Yes, printed direct mail has been declining at a 1.9% YOY rate, but its proactive and tactile purpose is still one of the most measurable of all media. In fact, direct mail generates a higher response rate than email. These days, online-only companies such as Blue Apron are using direct mail to send discount coupons to first-time customers. They are taking advantage of the fact that 66% of millennials are more likely to remember to use a voucher or coupon if they have a physical copy to carry around. While I’m not privy to how well this tactic is working out for them, the coupon did work on me.
3. Variable Printing
In this data-driven market, variable printing can be used effectively in conjunction with a company’s website. For example, a customer is on a clothing website, and has clicked several times on different styles of jeans. With the right technology in place, that company can mail a personalized direct-mail piece to that customer, with a coupon enclosed, within twelve to twenty-four hours. This level of personalized print-on-demand has unlimited potential if a company has good data.
In my many years as a designer, I’ve had a front seat to experiencing the evolution of print. Like the old saying goes, “What goes around, comes around.” The print market might not be what it was fifteen years ago, but who knows what the future will hold? So, I am happy to say, “Print is not dead.”