While most of the work I do is relegated to electronic medium, there is a good portion of my work that is devoted to print media. Even though the internet seems to double its size daily, there is still an absolute place for printed materials within a marketing plan for all businesses.
The Print Advantage
The designer controls the information – Publications are linear. That is, you turn the page or open the next fold of a brochure to further explore a piece. Therefore the designer is able to dictate the path the reader is to take to receive information. With a website however, the user is able to determine their path. This can lead to frustration on the part of the user if they are unable to find the information they are looking for immediately.
No downloads – With a printed piece, you do not have to wait for your content to download over an internet connection.
Appealing to the senses – A printed piece is more appealing to not only the eyes, but the sense of touch as well. The colors pop off of a printed page more so than a computer screen. You can hold, feel and even smell a printed piece. By making use of more than one human sense, the printed piece creates a more lasting memory with the user.
Portable – Printed publications are more portable. An internet connection is not required to view them.
You find the audience – Mailing addresses are more permanent than e-mail addresses. When mailing your printed marketing materials to your customer database, it is more likely you will reach them via a mailing address than sending a blast message to an e-mail distribution list. In turn, this allows you to find and reach your audience. You are not dependent on them finding your website through a search engine or online directory.
The Print Disadvantage
Too linear – The linear aspect of printed publications is also a disadvantage. The power of choice is removed from your audience. With a Web site, your customer is able to choose their own path and search for information at their leisure.
Limited shelf life – Printed publications are permanent. If information within them changes, they cannot be updated. As a result, the master design file must be modified and a reprint must be issued.
Costly to update – If a reprint is needed, there is a cost involved. Updating a Web site is instant and requires no cost if performed by an on-staff Webmaster.
So What Should I Use Print For?
Print is not dead. There is a time and place within your business’ marketing plan for using printed publications. By working in conjunction with your website, printed materials can really help promote your business.
You should use your printed materials to draw the initial interest of your customer. Flipping through a beautiful, full-color brochure is more likely to attract interest than receiving a random e-mail promoting a business or product. Use that printed piece to grab your audience’s attention. Once you have their attention, drive them to your website for the next step. You can achieve this by including a line such as “Interested in learning more? Visit www.examplesite.com to get started!” as the call-to-action within your printed material.
The printed piece should create an amazing introduction to your product or service. Your website should deliver that promise.