Friday, April 24, 2009

Marketing materials: Print vs. online

Several of my clients have asked me if printed marketing materials provide any value in this online age. The answer is unequivocally YES. Everyone is so inundated with e-newsletters and "e-everything" else, that the online medium has become saturated. Yes, print is more costly and more time-intensive, but a well-done printed piece that reads clearly and is visually appealing is more likely to be read by people who are overwhelmed by online media. Here’s why print should be a key part of your marketing mix:

• People like the enduring, tactile aspect of paper. Tangible printed materials sway many customers/clients to buy from you.
• Print is more likely to be filed, saved, displayed, or shared. This keeps your brand top of mind.
• Pieces can be distributed at conventions/trade shows and displayed in lobbies/showrooms.
• Paper can be permanent, whereas online materials come and go.

Let's compare this to e-greeting cards. When they were first introduced, everyone was sending out e-cards for all occasions. (I never saved an e-card but have a box full of meaningful paper cards people have sent me over the years.) An e-card doesn't have the same thoughtfulness as a card that someone personally selected, inscribed, and mailed. As a result, people stopped sending e-cards and the paper card industry is once again booming.

• It’s important to play to the strengths of each medium. For example, keep lists of inventories that change periodically online.
• Business letters are making a comeback after a long draught due to email. People are so deluged with email, that a well-written letter stands out and is appreciated.
• While hardcopy and the electronic media jostle for supremacy, both are valuable. There’s an old rule in sales that says you have to touch someone 5-7 times. When you conduct a marketing/sales campaign, mix it up with hardcopy, electronic copy, and phone calls (if appropriate).

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