Print Versus Digital

Is print still relevant?

10 Expert Views on Print vs. Digital Marketing

What’s the point to online dating? To eventually meet someone in person. What’s the point in ordering something online? So you’ll receive it in person. What’s the point in using social media? So you can share what you’ve done in person.

This is how marketers should look at print and digital media.

The whole concept is to eventually do, have, or see something in person. So while many like to argue that digital marketing has completely outrun its predecessor, let’s keep in mind that the tortoise beat the hare.

No matter what, no matter how many people are logged in, digital marketing will always be the print marketing’s humble protégé.

Think about it:

  • Print marketing offers its audience a sense of creditability; it takes time to write, edit, publish, and distribute. The web can be full of, well, “fake news”.
  • Print marketing might actually have a higher visibility rate because it cannot be as easily disposed of by a click of a finger. Your consumer will at some point hold your information in their hands, not just on their phone.
  • Print marketing targets those who are not always logged in online (cough Baby Boomers). Do you know how long it took my dad to stop printing our driving directions and just use his phone?!

In fact 7 in 10 Americans find ads in their mailbox to be more personal than ads in their email.
This is exactly why we reached out to the experts – from digital marketing to traditional print –where they stand on the most profitable form of marketing in 2017.

Their answers might surprise you.

Some believe digital marketing has already outranked print on things like quicker ROI, niche targeting, and visibility. Others see print marketing is effective but too costly or cumbersome to invest in long-term.

But don’t take my word for it. Take from the experts. Here is what they had to say:

 1.  Sean Desilva
Owner, Every Last Spot

“You have to be smarter to make print ads work these days. I put together a local marketing coop with other home trades and food businesses…My retention rate with the coop partners has been quite high; my own business sees a 2.5-3x ROI on every monthly mailing. A good indication to measure your ROI is how many customers you find redeeming your printed coupons.”

2.  Yohan Varella
Marketing Manager, SlickPie

“If you are opening a gym, it would be a great idea to print out a couple thousand pamphlets and hand them out in your neighbourhood …On the other hand, if you are selling personalized smartphone cases, it would be horrific to invest any resources in such print channels. It just won’t be worth it due to your audience, product, volume, margins….Does that mean print marketing is dead? No, not at all, but it means I wouldn’t put my eggs in that basket in the long run.”

3.  Robert Barrows
Advertising & Public Relations, R.M. Barrows, Inc.

“Whenever anybody asks if newspapers are dead (or still relevant)…I generally say to them, ‘Just wait until they write something bad about you….you’ll think everyone in the world saw that article…Now, from a marketing standpoint: All kinds of media should be considered when you are putting together a media plan.”

4. Drew Cerullo
Better Profit Growth

“My viewpoint on this may not be what a lot of people want to hear, because digital is “sexy” right now (social media is all the rage). But when it comes down to solid data and ROI, direct mail wins for me every time.

Digital media is inundated with ads. There’s constant clickbait on social media and a thousand things jumping out to distract potential customers, fighting for their attention. Typical Facebook ads get 2% CTR. But with direct mail, I’ve gotten my clients in industries from orthodontia to title agencies as much as an 18% response rate with…direct mail sequence.”

5. Jayme Pretzloff
Director of Marketing, Wixon Jewelers

“People have been screaming ‘print is dead’ from the mountaintops for the past four years and it still hasn’t changed my outlook. Across all aspects of our media mix, I still see [stronger ROI] from our direct mail. Especially with affluent consumers who are notoriously difficult to reach through marketing. Many marketers are reallocating print dollars to digital because they feel [print marketing] does not penetrate and capitalize on market share, but I believe the opposite is true.”

6. Drew Sandholm
Marketing Director, Quontic Bank

“From postcards to newsletters, print marketing might pack less of a punch than it used to, but it’s by no means obsolete … a strong marketing strategy incorporates both where appropriate … if all anyone gets in their mailbox is bills and junk mail, wouldn’t a personalized letter or card standout? Taking the time to handwrite someone a letter says a lot. It means you think so highly of the person that you took the time and effort to write. That personal touch could make all the difference.”

7. Evan Leepson
Leepson Associates
“As a general rule, I know that aging baby boomers continue to respond to snail mail. Millennials do not. Here’s an example. One of my market segments prefers to receive promotional information via snail mail. They like to photocopy the flyers and give them to those who are interested. I get a sufficient return rate (couples signing up for the workshop) from this method. No reason to go digital with this group.”

8. David Langton
Founder/President, Langton Creative Group

“Studies show people spend more time reading on paper, so online content must be shorter and catchier. Print allows for depth and builds credibility.”

9. Marc Prosser
Small business expert, Fit Small Business

“Mail and print materials still have the ability to break through the clutter. While the average person might see hundreds or thousands of online ads, at most there might be only 20 letters in a mailbox. That means you don’t have to compete with so many others to get their attention. Mail gets attention. More attention than digital media but happens to be more expensive.”

10. CJ Levendoski
Action Point Marketing

“We like to tell our clients, ‘If you want to catch fish, you have to fish where the fish are!’ And don’t get me started on millennials!! Did you know the average American checks their social media feed 17 times a day? A millennial spends an average of 5.4 hours a day on social media. And in veterinary medicine, the millennials are replacing baby boomers in pet ownership and yearly spends. It’s fascinating!”

One thing all these experts can agree on is that digital media is so saturated with competition that it’s hard to make a lasting impression. Print provides that coupon you put in your purse, the ad you put on your refrigerator, or the page from your magazine you ripped out for future reference.

Print adds to tangible personalization (not to say digital doesn’t do the same). While effective and less costly to put into place, digital marketing is designed to feel “personal” for a lot of people.

So, the question is, how personal can it really be?

Bottom line: Utilizing your company’s online presence is vital in 2018, but so is a marketing approach that works best for your business and your target prospect.

In other words, if you’re a financial advisor targeting baby boomers, a direct mail campaign might be just what you need! If you’re a new medical practice or restaurant, test the waters to see what works best for you. The answer (like the ones here) just might surprise you.