Special Feature The Enduring Value of Print by Jeff Hayzlett September 18, 2006 -- Findings in a recent poll of leading business marketers give printers more reasons for optimism about their prospects for growth. The Institute for the Study of Business Markets (ISBM) at Penn State asked marketing executives and academic researchers to identify the most important issues for business marketing now and in coming years. Among the seven top priorities citied in the ISBM Trends Study, two relate directly to the unique strengths of print as a medium and printing as a business: improve return on marketing investment decision making, and demonstrate and document delivered customer value and price accordingly. Other leading priorities cited in the report include: expand understanding of customer needs, market segments and drivers of customer value; competing globally; master analytical tools and improving quantitative skills; reinstate innovation as an engine of growth; and create new organizational models and linkages. Today's new opportunities for print providers reflect a reality dating back several centuries: people like print. Research from the ISBM Trends Study and similar reports underscore the unique capabilities of print providers to capitalize on the needs of today's marketers. Adding new services and positioning themselves as marketing partners, for example, offers print providers tremendous potential to increase revenues and customer loyalty. These new opportunities actually reflect a reality dating back several centuries: people like print. Breaking Through the Clutter Companies have more options than ever for reaching target audiences. In addition to traditional print and broadcast outlets, marketers deliver ads and messages via the Internet, cell phones, PDAs, movie theaters, kiosks and countless other venues. According to the market research firm Yankelovich, consumers encounter between 3,500 and 5,000 marketing messages a day--three or four times as many as in the 1970s. In that environment, communications must be appropriate and well targeted to break through the clutter. Print does that more effectively than any other medium. While the role of new media continues to grow, it has a long way to go to catch up with print. In one form or another, print accounts for more than half of all U.S. ad dollars. That includes direct mail, newspapers, yellow pages, consumer and business publications, collateral and point-of-sale materials. As a category, print represents the greatest spend among B2B marketers. When Outsell, Incorporated did an evaluation of the effectiveness of marketing tactics, trade magazines ranked number one for branding effectiveness. Events and direct mail marketing rounded out the top three. In lead generation, events were deemed most effective, followed by direct mail and trade publications. Two of those are pure print media and trade shows have a substantial print component; you can't have one without generating a truckload of collateral materials, directories, show dailies and other printed matter. The Core of the Media Mix While broadcast, Internet and other advertising vehicles are important to an integrated communications campaign, print remains a core component of the media mix. Print advertising in trade publications continues as one of the most effective ways for companies to reach customers. According to the Business Information Network, B2B print ad revenue grew last year-- up 5.4 percent from the previous year and expected to increase another 4 percent to 5 percent in 2006. Gary Slack, Chairman and Chief Experience Officer of B2B agency Slack Barshinger in Chicago, says, "Today, print is still an essential and one of the largest components of most integrated communications programs because the marketplace B2B companies are trying to reach still relies on print." Print also remains strong in consumer advertising. Allstate Insurance rolled out a new car insurance product last year and announced it with ads in Money, Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report. A consumer survey last year by the Newspaper Association of America found that newspapers outscore other media by wide margins in critical attributes as an advertising medium, including relevance, engagement and convenience. While broadcast, Internet and other advertising vehicles are important to an integrated communications campaign, print remains a core component of the media mix. Personalization Equals Selection The expansion of media choices and the communication environment give consumers of both B2B and B2C products unprecedented control over where, how or even if they choose to receive marketing messages. Consumers have more power to select the video, music, web content, and publications that interest them the most. At the same time, they can easily "select" or "delete" streams of information through, for example, TiVo and other DVR technology. "Do Not Call" lists have already had a major impact on telemarketers, which has driven growth of direct mail as a more effective alternative. Targeted communication, most often through the use of variable data printing, is vital to a marketing program's success. Personalized print communications give marketers a powerful vehicle for building 1:1 relationships with prospects and customers. It offers opportunities to leverage CRM data, and to gather more, based on responses. Marketers can track results to a degree that's impractical or impossible with mass communications. And they can improve their return on marketing investments with better results by delivering content that's truly relevant to their target audience. Personalization Equals Results Personalized communications continue to grow because they deliver results. An InfoTrends study showed that personalization increased repeat orders by almost 50 percent. Response rates improved 36 percent and response time by 34 percent. Most important, overall revenues and profits increased by 34 percent. Those numbers represent strong ROI, a priority identified in the ISBM study. To make documents that are already personalized more attractive to marketers, applications such as trans-promo printing turn credit card and similar statements into powerful tools for delivering promotional messages. Adding color or targeted marketing messages to consumers based on past behavior extends the value of these documents that everyone pays attention to on a monthly basis. Targeted communications aren't limited to 1:1 variable data output. Custom publishing delivers highly relevant content to large, well-defined audiences. Annual expenditures of $4.85 billion have doubled since 1999, with more than 16,000 custom publications in North America. Unlike any other media, digital printing allows marketers to deliver true 1:1 marketing messages. The Essential Nature of Print Print's legacy as a medium that people like and marketers find effective continues stronger than ever. Digital technologies, communication trends and marketing priorities make for a bright future for printers. As the ISBM Trends Study indicates, companies that create products and services that deliver demonstrated value and strong return on investment to customers stand to increase revenues and loyalty--the cornerstones of business growth. That's the enduring value of print. Please offer your feedback to Jeff. He can be reached at: [email protected]