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In 2018, Take Print Where Digital Can't Go

Much has been written on the benefits of print and how we can help it compete for marketing dollars against digital marketing. But why try to compete at all? In 2018, why not capitalize on the capabilities of print that digital marketing cannot replicate?

By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: January 24, 2018

There has been a ton written on creative uses of direct mail. I write more on this topic than any other, it seems. What’s left? What is genuinely new and interesting that can be written to kick off the New Year? I’d like to offer a suggestion. It seems that we’ve become so focused on data-driven marketing, multichannel integration, and print-to-mobile technologies that we can forget the obvious. Sure, those things are important. But data, multichannel, and [channel]-to-mobile can be done in digital marketing, too. For 2018, why not focus on what print can do that digital marketing can’t?  If your clients did that, what kind of results might they see?

Here are five of my favorites:  

  1. Dimension. Pretty much anything dimensional that lands in the mailbox is going to get opened. Find case studies using dimensional mail and get those metrics in front of your clients. Show how, for the right products and target audiences, a dimensional campaign could crush their typical campaign results. Create hypotheticals based on response rates, conversion rates, and dollars per sale.
  2. Interactive components. It used to be that printed materials such as creative folds, pullouts, and pop-up elements were cost-prohibitive for small and mid-sized runs. However, the industry has been working steadily on creating template-based options that bring down the cost. Whether in-house or outsourced, consider offering truly interactive elements as part of your mix. Pull together results from case studies and create hypotheticals to show your clients what can be accomplished.
  3. Creative envelopes. Direct mail is more than the message inside the envelope. It starts with the envelope itself. It’s why AAA plasters its marketing message all over the front and back of its envelopes — benefits, calls to action, bulleted lists of free items — so that the recipient is exposed to the message whether they open the envelope or not. But other techniques—colored envelopes, teasers, dimension, faux elements (such as making envelopes look like FedEx, official government documents, or Air Mail)—can have a powerful impact, too. These techniques have been used for decades by high-volume mailers, so why not bring them into the mix for your clients? Big mailers continue to use them because they work.  Those results aren’t exclusive to them.
  4. Aroma. Aroma marketing is a rapidly growing field, and an increasing amount of research is being done on how aroma affects intent to purchase. Walk into many upscale clothing retailers and see what I mean. (Do you really think there is THAT much leather in that clothing store?) Scent marketing can be used in print, too. Touch the paper to release the scent, and aroma becomes part of the story. Aroma can comfort. It can excite and intrigue. It can spread “happy.” (Check out how one lingerie retailer increased sales by 20% by scenting its stores with chocolate.) Even negative scents can have a powerful impact on intent to buy. For more on how aroma can be used in print, this article on Print Power is quite interesting.
  5. Sight and sound. Think of print as an envelope that can carry more than documents. It can contain physical elements that create sound, light, and even video (embedded video screens). This is clearly not for every project, but for the right opportunities, experiment! Physical components cannot be used in digital marketing, and when they are used creatively, they can be highly effective and are unique to print. Check out the website of Talking Print and see what I mean.

Print is more than a flat envelope. Sure, we need the right list, great targeting, and superior production quality. But print offers a multi-faceted experience. Why not make 2018 the year you encourage clients to take print where digital cannot go?

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”

 

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