Why Print Should Be Part of Your Marketing Mix


Marketing efforts can go one of two ways: a widespread net (e.g., traditional broadcast-style marketing) or a spear that hits the bullseye. When discussing the best methods of targeting niche audiences, digital marketing dominates the conversation: email marketing, banner ads, and so on.

A “secret weapon” exists, however, that almost never gets the spotlight it deserves: print marketing.

Believe it or not, despite what you might think, print marketing and advertising remains a heavy-hitting—and more importantly, quite effective—contender. According to one study, 77% of Millennials—the most coveted and lucrative demographic—report paying attention to direct mail print advertising and marketing materials.

That’s a surprising share among a group widely known for their love of tech. And yet, it’s their savvy nature that paves the way for print media to make an impact. In short, what is expected and normal for their parents is interesting and unexpected to a generation acclimated to screens.

Digital marketing tactics are also limited to the display size showing the content. Small screens limit the impact while large screens can be overwhelming, introducing a lot of direct and indirect competition for attention. And programs like ad blockers can completely cut off advertisers from their targeted audience.

Print marketing, however, always displays exactly as intended and gives the marketer considerably more control and oversight into how their message is presented and perceived.

Print marketing, especially magazine-style content, can also be used to create, cultivate, engage, and—most importantly, target—niche audiences.

On the internet, thriving niche communities know their value and are often guarded or closed off when it comes to advertising encroachment. Their forums are by and for community members, and ads are brushed aside in favor of member discussions. So-called “influencers” among a niche group are often treated with a measure of suspicion; it’s generally known they are beholden to their sponsors, for better or worse.

It’s not to say that some of these problems don’t have counterparts in the print world, because they do. An ad in a magazine can be ignored or skipped over in favor of a story if a reader is determined enough. However, it’s far more likely to catch the reader’s eye when it must be ignored in a tactile way: they must actually touch the ad to move beyond it.

Magazines and other printed periodicals are a believable and familiar platform for ads; their presence on the page is expected. In fact, many readers anticipate ads that showcase highly-targeted, personally-relevant content to them.

Print marketing is direct, targeted, and can—when used skillfully—be used to focus attention on your brand, message, and offer.

Since the creation of smart phones and tablets, readers can consume digital marketing virtually anywhere, but they’re always one push notification away from distraction. Print marketing, on the other hand, reaches readers—whether they are sitting on a plane, waiting at the doctor’s office, or perched on a park bench by the local newsstand—in fixed locations. Not only do print readers actively seek print content out, they make time to read it thoroughly. This phenomena bears the touch of the “sunk cost” fallacy: I bought it, so I’m going to use it.

When it comes to digital ads, advertisers only have so much space and time to get their message across. The existence of “bounce rate” as a metric only reaffirms the speed of digital distraction and movement.

In print, a more leisurely timeline follows. Advertisers can stretch their proverbial wings and use sentences, rather than a handful of buzz words, to get their point across.

And the opportunity of combining print marketing with digital marketing is significant.

Imagine, for a moment, a banner ad urging you to mail a self-addressed stamped envelope to receive more information. It comes across like the setup to an elaborate joke because it simply wouldn’t work in the real world. Flip this scenario, however, and it becomes not only plausible but demonstrably successful—proof that print is powerful and engaging enough to drive interest to another medium when used strategically.

There is a myriad of tactics which can and do work to increase the versatility and crossover potential for the not-so-humble print marketing campaign. Print marketing might manifest as a magazine ad, a direct mailer with an offer for a free gift when you go online and complete a form, a prompt to text a word to a specific SMS number, or a line with a campaign-specific URL.

Using print to deliver brand messages and advertising via niche and highly targeted print marketing strategies gives unprecedented ability to prompt engagement.

Print offers brands a way to authentically express their brand and their extended story in a medium that values construct over speed, and authenticity over volume.

In short, print not only continues to be a valuable, viable marketing method for brands eager to make their mark: it’s a campaign must-have for success in a fragmented digital media landscape with increasingly attention-deficit audiences.