From left: Jim Mikol (Leo Burnett Worldwide), David Mastervich (U.S.Postal Service), Jim Dunn (Heidelberg USA), Joanne Vinyard (The Print Council), Ben Cooper (The Print Council), Julie Higgins Schmidt (Xerox), Molly Foshay (Sappi Fine Papers Norh America).

On June 24th, The Print Council brought the sixth edition of its “Print Delivers” series to New York City in a “lunch and learn” program hosted by Sappi Fine Papers North America. The session, presented to more than 200 people at the Art Directors Club in midtown Manhattan, reiterated the Council’s message about the place of print in the marketing mix and its unique abilities to influence consumer behavior.

“Print Delivers” drew a comparable crowd in Dallas earlier this year, and the next stop for the event will be Chicago in November. At “Print Delivers,” speakers share statistics, case studies, and the latest findings about print media effectiveness from Print in the Mix, the Council’s informational clearing-house. They also try to make a strong environmental case for print. The sessions, hosted by suppliers and local print firms, are aimed at advertising agency personnel, publishers, and others who buy or influence the purchase of media.

Formed in 2003, The Print Council is supported by 42 sponsoring companies including 22 printing businesses. From the beginning, it has worked closely with the U.S. Postal Service to encourage the use of print. At the Art Directors Club, executive director Ben Cooper described the organization as a “business development alliance within the printing industry to promote the value of print communications.” The value, Cooper said, can be recognized “from the forest to the mailbox” and should be extolled in that way.

David Mastervich, manager of catalogs and publications for the Postal Service, told the audience that on a typical day, consumers intake about 3,000 media messages, pay attention to 52, and remember four. Messages in print can be the memorable ones, he said, when they’re correctly delivered in multichannel marketing campaigns that leverage consumers’ familiarity with and trust in printed communications.

Underscoring his point with print-based marketing case histories—including one in which the client was said to have achieved an ROI of 3,000%—Mastervich called the appeal of catalogs and direct mail more relevant than ever. “The buzz is there,” he said. “Print works.”

Jim Mikol, executive vice president and global director of print management, Leo Burnett Worldwide, likewise praised “the extraordinary value of print” in campaigns that aspire to build consumer awareness. These campaigns succeed, he said, when they acknowledge “the need to touch consumers everywhere they live”—an objective that can’t fully be achieved without the help of print. For the details, he invited the audience to consult “Why Print?”, a Print Council publication that explains why the medium work as well as it does.

As a business development consultant for Xerox, Julie Higgins Schmidt helps customers plan and execute 1:1 marketing campaigns that take advantage of the high response rates achievable with individually targeted print messaging. She said that in one such program for a state tourism agency, three versions of a mailing piece were used in a test to document the effectiveness of personalization: a generic information packet that served as a control; a somewhat more personalized version; and a “relevant, data-driven custom packet” with content corresponding to each recipient’s prior input at a web site.

The data-driven packet—which was printable in 145,000 possible combinations—showed a 24.1% improvement in response rate versus the control, said Higgins Schmidt. For the state agency, this translated into a projected 23% annual increase in tourism revenue. In another program that Higgins Schmidt described, a college that sent personalized PDFs and printed brochures to attract potential applicants enjoyed a visitor-to-student conversion rate of 13%.

Jim Dunn, president of Heidelberg USA, used a leave-behind sample to show the audience what offset lithography and conventional finishing can do to showcase the power of print. He said that pieces like the one he presented—richly printed and coated, diecut, embossed, and hot-foil stamped with colored foils and microstructures—are persuaders that help consumers decide “whether the brand is relevant or not.” A piece produced with help of these techniques, Dunn said, can be "one of the four that gets remembered.”

Data points almost as numerous as trees in a well-managed forest were the basis of remarks by Molly Foshay, director of creative services for Sappi. Her focus was sustainability, and her reminder to the audience was that there are “a lot of emotions and perceptions around the topic.” But she also gave them plenty of facts to cite in defense of print communications as an environmentally responsible medium when the paper is obtained from certified sources.

Insisting on paper made of pulp from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) “should be at the top of your list” of green priorities, Foshay said. She added that responsible forest management is one reason why there are more trees in the U.S. than there were 70 years ago and 5.3 million more acres of forest land than existed in 1980.

In paper manufacturing, said Foshay, “every part of the tree is used” (including parts burned for energy), and paper fibers can be recycled up to nine times (as long as they go into products of lesser quality than the original). Her conclusion: sustainable communication “does grow on trees—as long as it’s managed well.”