At Plumb, we often get asked whether print marketing is alive and well as a marketing strategy. Our answer is, yes with an effective strategy it can be very effective. Many companies still use print marketing from postcardsbusiness cards, and catalogs to brochures, coupons, and simple thank you cards. In the past few years, print’s marketing capabilities have become more personalized; many companies not only use print marketing as a tool to build their brand and increase brand loyalty but to generate qualified leads and for use in a multiple pronged campaign strategy. There are many ways to more effectively reach your target audience in this arena, that other tactics just can’t compete.

Print reinforces your brand longer than a social media post. According to Alexandra Rohlfs, a marketing analyst at Webs, the shelf life of a Twitter post is about 15 minutes (20 minutes if you are popular). Have you posted to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin, et cetera? Then you are aware daily content is key to staying in front of people. Social media is an excellent way to have conversations with your current and potential clients, but conversations can be short lived, and usually, people are moving on to the next best thing. Yes, a post gives you instant results and drives people to your website within a short period. However, it is just that – a little time.

Print, on the other hand, has a shelf life of about two weeks (Soat 2015) since many people want to hold onto unique printed material. Andy Blau, senior vice president of finance and advertising at Time Inc says, “[Print is] really for establishing brand worthiness in the marketplace, for establishing the value of the brand, for communicating very broadly, with broad reach, to the right target audience…Print advertising is a very efficient way of establishing a brand identity and for communicating that to the target market.” In other words, print done right, allows your company to tell current and potential clients your story without the distractions of a thousand other tweets and headlines.

Print marketing already has a built-in audience – you just have to use it. In 7 Reasons to Consider Print for Your ‘Non-Traditional’ Content Strategy, Joe Pulizzi, the founder of Content Marketing Institue, says print is still a great marketing tool because there is “no audience development costs.” Many digital marketers (even Plumb’s marketers) spend hours trying to build a social media audience by consistently engaging people on various social outlets. Don’t get us wrong; we love our followers, and love to teach others how to market better; however, finding and following our current and potential clients on social media to build our following can be time-consuming which increases costs.

Is it the silver bullet? The answer is no. We consistently encourage our clients that a multiple-pronged approach to any sales and marketing strategy is vital. Neither digital or print used alone are going to be “silver bullet” to bring you all the business you need, but multiple tactics can be hugely effective when used jointly. Let’s say, for example, you are web-based ride service company, and you want to increase traffic to your website. Yes, you can create Facebook and Google advertisements to drive people to your site or social media page. Finding the right people can sometimes be tricky. Consider however an online based strategy that also employs print marketing to target your audience directly: 

  • 20-30 somethings

  • Earn $50,000 plus a year

  • Lives in the metro Denver area

  • Rents or owns a home/apartment

  • Visits these stores/nightclubs/bars/gyms

  • No kids 

It is a great way to increase your odds of being in front of the right people at the right time.

Print gets personal. When printed pieces are personalized – we mean going beyond the “Hi (Your Name Here). We have a sale!” – it makes your company more memorable. Print marketing goes beyond the simple everyday email and gets people to engage in ways they are unable to with a website or social media page. Charlene Jimenez, a contributor for The American Genius, gives an excellent example of personalized print marketing:

“The realtor I used to purchase my first home sends me a card and a five-dollar give certificate to a local ice cream shop twice a year—on my birthday and on my home-buying anniversary. It is a small, simple effort, but it goes a long way. To me, this shows he is willing to give his clients a little extra attention. In turn, this keeps his services at the forefront of my mind, so I can recommend him to others or so I can use him again with my next home purchase. Sometimes digital media just isn’t the same as a letter in the mail.” (Jimenez 2012)

When you personalize something, even a simple thank you card, it goes above and beyond for many clients and also increases and improves customer retention. Your clients know you are thinking about them because you take the time to send them something (even if it is small) to acknowledge that you appreciate their business and that you care.

So, print marketing is not dead, it has just changed and is now a more efficient marketing asset that businesses should have in their marketing plan – as with anything, you just have to know how to use it.