Think Digital. But Don't Forget The Print | Think Digital. But Don't Forget The Print | DMA

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Think Digital. But Don't Forget The Print


The glory days of advertising, when Soho was overflowing with creative types writing witty headlines for high profile billboard campaigns, have come to an end. Advertising agencies have had to adapt as cost-effective social media and digital channels have eclipsed traditional marketing methods. Creative gurus are few and far between these days. Social media and online strategists, on the other hand, are ubiquitous.

One can see the appeal of digital marketing. It’s cheap, it’s measurable, it’s modern, and it’s chic. But it’s not always the best way to promote your business. After all, when was the last time you heard someone say how much they loved a pop up ad?

GDPR Arrival

Privacy problems were the reason why the new data protection regulations (known to all as GDPR) were brought in. They made it harder for companies to farm data and sell it on. This curtailed the daily digital deluge of online messaging and email spam boxes everywhere gave a sigh of relief. Although GDPR required a period of adjustment, the change in the law was a necessary evil. And smart businesses have begun to see the advantage: the opportunity to reset and rethink their company’s marketing mix.

GDPR showed that the digital marketing revolution had gone too far. And as a consequence traditional methods are making a comeback. Direct mail is a great example of this. Take the humble door-drop for example. If you want to target affluent people, there’s no better way than putting leaflets through their letterbox. Identifying these people is easy. You don’t need a computer or a complex algorithm. All you need is their postcode. And there’s no data protection law against that!

The Value Of Print

Whereas digital adverts risk being easily ignored, the value of print is becoming more and more apparent. Print engages customers because it’s physical and tangible. You can hold a brochure in your hand, feel the texture, feel the quality, and keep it handy to read again in the future. A brochure with high production values implies prestige and permanency. And it suggests that the products or services being sold are valuable.

Printed words also have more impact than words on a website or email. Copywriters will tell you that sales emails are hard to write because they’re skim-read and easily deleted. Readers have a much lower attention span (and tolerance level!) when reading a screen. A personalised letter, on the other hand, is far more likely to engage and induce a response – especially when it’s printed on high quality paper.

The Golden Days

In the golden days of advertising, a well-known lager used the tagline “reassuringly expensive”. Although it was somewhat tongue in cheek, and underpinned a broader marketing strategy, the tagline worked because it contained an element of truth. People expect to get what they pay for. Therefore, is it really a surprise that cheap pop-ups, interstitials, and banner ads have failed to replace their traditional counterparts?

Traditional marketing channels like direct mail have survived for decades for a reason: they’ve always provided value for money. Yes they’re comparatively expensive compared to digital methods, but the return on investment is usually greater. And this isn’t just anecdotal evidence. The statistics back this up too.

This is why, despite the digital revolution, smart marketers see a bright future for printed communications in the post-GDPR world. Digital isn’t going to go away. Nobody is saying that. But a broad strategy that embraces the best of old and new marketing techniques is clearly the best approach. So before you commit your whole marketing budget to a slick digital salesman, remember which channels have been around the longest and why.

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