What more can the industry do to promote the power of print?

first published: Print Monthly – May 2013

“blinded by the technology”

When I started in marketing in the late ‘80s, print was the medium of choice. When I say “choice”, I use the term loosely. Aside from print media advertising the rest of my budget was split between direct mail and a smattering of telemarketing.

In comparison today’s marketer, the new print buyer, is literally spoilt for choice. Email broadcasting, social media, online advertising, SMS, SEO, etc., all compete for a slice of her budget. It’s no surprise then that, when push comes to shove, she’ll opt for a) what she knows and b) what she believes delivers the best ROI.

So, if these 30-something “digital natives” don’t understand print and feel blinded by the technology then that’s a) taken care of. If they perceive it as expensive because as an industry we insist on presenting it as a commodity with a focus on price, then there goes b) too.

Modern day marketers have, on the whole, had little or no exposure to print and they certainly don’t learn about it in their studies. That means we need to tailor our approach to them, losing any references to the “speeds and feeds” and plant lists which she’s simply not interested in.

Instead the focus needs to be on how powerful the medium really is and how it can deliver her a healthy ROI for her campaigns. There’s a wealth of evidence out there which proves that many of the other channels (and particularly those viewed as cheaper or even free) are nowhere near as effective, or as good at eliciting a response, as print. But I’m not convinced that we’re taking the time to learn about these competitive/complementary channels and their weaknesses, and arming ourselves with the facts we need to convince the marketers of print’s ROI and continuing value.

In some instances and for some campaigns the other channels might have the edge but, for most, print will have a crucial and indispensable role to play. We certainly shouldn’t be keeping that good news to ourselves!