These days, sales and marketing campaigns typically focuses around Facebook, Twitter, LinknedIn and other digital platforms. But to imagine that print has somehow fallen by the wayside is to make a potentially costly error that can damage your brand reputation and, ultimately, your conversions.

The Beauty of Print

Print will always have an advantage over digital when it comes to longevity and tangibility. Think about a digital video or content piece shared on social media. After just a few seconds it disappears into the ether; just another piece of marketing content in a sea of digital content.

The transient nature of digital media imbues a sense of dissatisfaction or a tendency for us to switch off from it.

While digital media is passive and reactive, print media has an immediacy and tangibility, allowing us the opportunity to engage and handle with a branded piece of material in our own way and at our own speed.

Crucially, too, a lot of printed marketing can be retained for future reference, making their lifespan particularly attractive from an ROI perspective.

It’s also important to remember that not all businesses are naturally aligned with digital marketing. Think about SMEs and industrial businesses, who may have customers who prefer the face-to-face touch and more traditional option of receiving information to later refer to.

It’s important to know your audience and to cater to their needs. Yes, digital is hugely important and there is no doubt that it can work superbly in terms of mass reach and exposure. But it’s impact and presence is simply not as sustained as that of printed media.

What does the research say?

In 2014, market research company Nielsen carried out research into print which found that shoppers were more inclined to use print materials to increase their product knowledge.

Over 50 percent of shoppers surveyed used print and direct mail to make a purchasing decision, compared with 27 percent for retail websites and 37 percent for email marketing.

Over 50 percent of shoppers surveyed used print and direct mail to make a purchasing decision, compared with 27 percent for retail websites and 37 percent for email marketing.Click To Tweet

Digital channels were found to be valuable in terms of informing buyers as to where they could shop. But print helped them to make the purchasing decision, demonstrating how the two channels should be integrated for maximum gain.

Remember too that inbound marketing mechanisms such as direct mail can be extremely cost-effective, especially when compared to digital marketing.

Interestingly too, the B2B market still greatly values channels such as trade magazines, with 45 percent of B2B buyers saying that they consulted these publications for information about possible purchases.

45 percent of B2B buyers saying that they consulted trade print magazines for information about possible purchases.Click To Tweet

Examples of effective print media

It’s important to appreciate that print is still very present but it’s evolving too. Messaging needs to be slick and sophisticated and branding and graphics need to be highly professional. Choose high-end print materials and don’t skimp on the finished product if you want to give a sense of brand quality.

Great print ads come in all shapes and sizes.

There are plenty of examples of how print media is being used to deliver effective sales and marketing campaigns for B2B and B2C brands and businesses. For example:

Vehicle wraps

All businesses with a fleet will find that vehicle wraps are a high-impact, cost-effective means of increasing brand recognition and establishing a physical presence in your locality.

Brochures

Brochures and flyers are still cost-effective and impactful. They are invaluable in a range of situations such as trade events, direct mail, client site visits and so forth.

Business cards

Don’t forget the humble business card, especially if you work in a B2B market! A good business card will still be retained and referred to for a later follow up.

Even the humble business card can make a big impact.

Pop-up stands

Yes, you can have a large digital screen at an event – but many businesses simply can’t afford this tech. So pop-up stands are still highly popular and impactful in drawing attention to your brand and your presence.

Combining Print and Digital for Best Effect

There are many ways printed media can work alongside digital, as part of an integrated marketing strategy bringing together diverse elements such as print, web, social media, Out of House, PR and so forth.

Smart marketers will integrate their channels to get the most from each. For example, by gathering analytics, you can see which marketing piece is working and whether it is having the desired effect. You can also offer exclusivity such as promo codes to encourage customers to your channel of preference via a direct mail piece, print advertising or your website. Again, the coding and tracking provide rich analytics to guide your strategy.

Below are some examples of how print can bolster and connect potential consumers to your digital assets and vice versa:

QR codes and personalized URLs

One of the most popular and direct ways to link printed media with digital is through the use of QR codes and personalized short URLs. The ubiquity of smartphones has opened up huge opportunities for this, with interested parties able to quickly scan a QR code or enter a short URL to get to your digital assets.

One of the powerful consequences of this is the ability to gather geographical data on your consumers, allowing you to see who is scanning your QR codes and where. For physical businesses, this data can be invaluable.

Variable printing

Variable printing allows businesses to personalize graphics and images as they are printed, without slowing down the print process. This effectively allows you to print individualized marketing material based on consumer choices.

This works perfectly with social media campaigns whereby subscribers sign up by giving you information on themselves, allowing you to tailor the print marketing materials you send to them.

Social media campaigns

Social media is undoubtedly a more cost-effective way of reaching and engaging with a huge amount of people over a short period of time. If you’ve invested time in growing your social media followings then this can act as the perfect platform for drawing attention to your print-based campaigns.

For example, you might have just invested in some new vehicle wraps for your fleet, showing off your new branding. Social media could be the perfect tool for bringing this to people’s attention. You could even run a campaign whereby people take a snap of one of your new branded vehicles and are entered into a competition.

Brand awareness and recognition

Brand awareness is one of the most important roles any branded media will play, whether it’s digital or print-based. By using print and digital you are building brand presence in both the real and digital world. This has the effect of both mediums reinforcing each other, thereby improving the likelihood your branding is established in people’s minds when they stumble upon you.

Once your activities are in place, you can cross-pollinate them and track data. Use print media to send leads to your website and social channels and vice versa. The important thing is to constantly review and refine your approach using evidence-based data and to seek customer feedback so that you know you are hitting the mark when it comes to engaging with your target audience in a way that is meaningful to them.

About the Author: Joe Day is the founder of Signman, a Bristol and Bath-based sign company. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.