Screen time has increased quite a bit over the last decade, and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 with more people staying at home, screen time increased all the more rapidly. With this in mind, you may think print marketing and advertising is dead. However, that could not be further from the truth.
It’s true that we live in a digital heavy world where we are all overrun with ads coming at us from every angle. With so much noise, it is hard for anything to be special or stand out. That’s where adding a print piece to your marketing and advertising efforts can be an advantage!
Pros for Print
Print offers a number of benefits that you just won’t find with digital options. For starters, it allows you to make more enduring connections with your audience. A less obvious benefit is that print tends to be regarded as more trustworthy than digital marketing. Printed pieces also have a longer shelf life and brand recognition over digital options.
Another benefit to print, and more specifically direct mail, is that studies have actually shown this type of piece requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media, which means print is easier to understand and more memorable than its digital counterparts.
This is not to say that you should abandon all other forms of marketing and advertising, but rather consider adding print to your mix. When paired with digital efforts, you can strengthen your brand awareness even more by engaging more of the senses. A print element can delight audiences in a space many have forgotten because we live in such a digital age. Then, digital can serve as more of an efficient reminder to keep the brand you’re building top of mind.
Ways to Use Print
There are lots of ways to use print to reach your audience. Some types of print pieces you might want to consider include:
- An annual report
- Direct mail or postcards
- Event invitations
- Point of Purchase signage
No matter which piece you choose, remember that using a print piece gives you a touchpoint with your audience when they are in a more relaxed state of mind and can actually focus on what they’re looking at, rather than being distracted by continuous messaging that bombards our screens.
What Makes Print so Impactful?
You have to have good content and a clear objective for any tactic to work, and with print, there’s another element of finality. You can’t make an adjustment on the fly, so it needs to be well thought out to begin with. Including small elements that make the design special can help increase the sticking power of a piece and in turn– the sticking power of your brand.
Touch memory, or haptic memory, has been proven to be the most lasting form of cognitive and emotional connection, which comes into play with print pieces more often than you realize. Each piece has a different weight, size, or feeling when in your hands. Your phone, on the other hand, will always be a 1.6-pound rectangle.
When you think about these factors, it’s easier to tell that print makes a connection because print is engaging, interactive, experience-driven, dynamic, personal, and so much more! Let’s take a look at a few different examples of how to connect using print.
Print is Engaging
These Habitat for Humanity Impact Cards were created for Gwinnett Habitat’s 2021 Virtual Annual Fundraising Event with the goal to physically engage the attendees as they participated in the digital event on screen.
Information in the deck of cards includes impact stats and short stories of accomplishments in the previous year. The final cards include QR codes prompting involvement with the organization through volunteer opportunities or donations that could then be tracked digitally.
What’s really special about these impact cards are that each one focuses on one small, easily digestible piece of information that could be called out during the presentation. The deck also included a remittance envelope to help prompt response to the call to action.
Print is Interactive
The goal for our own company’s business cards is to bring some playfulness and a bit of a surprise element to the exchange of business cards and make the experience more memorable.
The business cards have all contact info on one side while the backs have been utilized for personal images of each team member’s hand in a rock, paper, or scissors position.
Not only are these cards functional, but we’ve also worked an interactive game into a space that is usually boring or tedious allowing the other person to relax a little in a networking setting. These really help Rock Paper Scissors stand out in a crowd!
Print is Experience Driven
This poster and bookmark series was designed for a literacy nonprofit, Page Turners Make Great Learners. The organization serves Title 1 schools in the Atlanta area to improve student literacy. This piece was used to excite and engage educators around a new student-led book club.
Each teacher that signed up for the program received a poster to hang in their classroom and bookmarks to give to their students. The bookmarks provided information about the students who would be leading the book club’s moderated blogs.
The materials were packaged in a tube labeled with the organization’s brand. This packaging brought an element of delight as the items were unboxed and served as a tangible experience that excited students and ultimately drove traffic to a digital platform.
Print is Dynamic
With this invitation, we wanted to invite our audience to a client appreciation event in a way that would be more memorable. Our team came up with a circus theme that would set the tone for all collateral and event planning.
We knew as the first touchpoint, we wanted an invitation that really began to immerse our clients in the experience we would be providing. Our team determined that a unique fold in the shape of a circus tent would create that immediate interest and really highlight our fun theme for this event.
The invitation also had an admission ticket inserted into the center of the fold and was placed in a square envelope with a personalized label that wrapped around the edge in order to create a special feeling right out of the mailbox.
Then, we followed up this print piece with similarly designed email and social media graphics, and we got a great turnout for our event!
Print is Personal
To kick off a new name and brand for the community improvement district (CID) formerly known as Gwinnett Village CID, these member kits were created. The goal was to help build a sense of camaraderie, ownership, and belonging for CID members.
Kits were divided into four audience categories based on industry. Each kit was hand-delivered and included industry-specific promotional materials, a die-cut folder that contained a letter from the Executive Director, a Gateway85 CID Member window cling, a booklet that detailed the new brand launch, and a newspaper style Annual Report that unfolded to a hand-drawn poster showcasing the district map on the back.
Print is Enduring
This piece was one we actually received! This maze was sent by SharpSpring, an inbound marketing automation platform. The apparent goal was to send something fun as an offer to start an agency partnership.
It’s pretty simple–a piece of glass mounted to a piece of foam board with a maze surrounding the Rock Paper Scissors logo.
It showed up, unannounced, in the mail. As human beings, and a creative group who love the unexpected, it was super interesting.
Ultimately, IT WORKED! We use Sharpspring for inbound marketing automation (not just for the print piece they mailed us, but it was a nice touch!). We have this maze hanging in our conference room.
It’s All About the Plan
Although fun folds, robust kits, and inserts are attention-grabbing tactics, these are only one part of print pieces. Planning is crucial and always should be the first step for any marketing efforts. Print must support your goals and fit within your overall marketing plan timeline and budget.
Think of it this way: If you’re hosting a dinner party, you wouldn’t serve the appetizers, main course, and dessert all at once. Instead, you’d plan a timeline before your party to plan when you’ll serve each item so your guests can relax and enjoy the experience.
What Makes a Print Piece Work?
When considering the addition of a print piece to your efforts, keep the following in mind to help you decide if it will work for your needs:
- Is it goal-oriented?
- Is it on track for your target audience?
- Is the design strong? Good Design = Good Print
- Do you have a print partner with a strong portfolio?
- PRO TIP: Don’t be afraid to request previous work if you’re vetting a new print partner. Quality of work is a pretty important element that should not be overlooked.
There are Design Options for all Budgets!
If print is new to you, it can feel intimidating when you start to think about designing all these pieces and whether they will fit into your budget. The good news is there are options for all budgets! Here are just a few of them.
- Canva is an online, do-it-yourself tool that can help you create more professional-looking graphics. This does require a little creativity, some minor technical skills, and an understanding of your visual brand elements in order to keep things cohesive and impactful. But it is a very budget-friendly choice!
- Using high-quality stock photography is another way to elevate the look of your brand. There are a lot of options to choose from, such as Unsplash and other similar free-to-use options, while others like Shutterstock have paid options. Just be sure to check the attribution rights when using these sites!
- A final option is to work with a designer! They will help you to get the most impact while keeping your visual branding cohesive and consistent. However, just like with printers, you will want to vet an agency or freelance designer to make sure they are a good fit for you AND that you are getting the best work that meets the goals and objectives you set. Sometimes spending some extra money can take you to that next level.
Whatever You Do, Make it Special
Once you’ve determined your goals, campaign timing, and have secured your partners, it’s time to determine how to make your piece stand out. We showcased several out-of-the-box ideas above, but want to make sure you know that adding special elements doesn’t necessarily mean you need to break the bank to be effective. If you have the funds, use them! These elements create a more memorable piece by involving more senses.
- Foil and even clear varnish are options that can delight your audience or highlight something specific.
- Die-cuts are another way to give a piece a unique twist.
- Special folds can even make a piece stand out— and it doesn’t need to be as elaborate as a circus tent!
- A distinctive size or shape is a particularly economical way to make a piece stand out in a crowd.
The bottom line: Dare to be different!
Tracking and Measurement
Before you dive in deep, we need to have a conversation about return on investment (ROI). Print is a brand awareness tactic, which makes it more difficult to track the results being generated. To help track your RIO, you can either include a digital option to capture responses or commit to the intangible nature of brand awareness.
If you want to include a digital option, consider adding a QR code. These are more advanced than they were when initially introduced years ago and can incorporate some of your brand elements. With phone cameras now able to scan and direct users without additional tools, this is an easy way to drive traffic back to your website.
Retailers may want to consider unique coupon codes or discounts based on the printed materials they send out. This is a great way to determine if a print piece is coming from an event or a targeted mailing.
And finally, be sure to keep regular track of your other channels, whether that’s visits to social media accounts, traffic to your website, or in-store sales. If you’re using Google Analytics (and you should be!) you can add an event to your tracking to measure traffic before and after a print piece is distributed.
Wrapping It Up
If you’re thinking about adding print to your mix but have questions or need help turning your visions into reality, we are here to help! Fill out the form on our contact page to request a marketing consultation!