Let’s talk outbound inbound. Inbound content gives a place for your audience to find content, engage with your brand and for you to build relationships. Content, as they used to say, is king. Emails and print are content rich but outbound, intending to generate a response. Any discussion of channels for content marketing should include the two. And why? Because they complement your inbound strategy and stretch your reach directly.
But emails have issues. Ubiquity for one – I receive more than 300 emails from every type of business every day. 95% of them bounce straight into my spam folder. If they don’t, then the content better be damn compelling to make me read them. And short.
If you get them right – right content, right database – emails work. Still. But let’s go back to the original content media. Print.
You’re biased, I hear you cry – you’re a printer. And you’re right. What better way to demonstrate the rich variety of the printed artefact than giving you, erm, a printed artefact? I won’t even go into the possibilities. Die-cut sculptural pieces, origami folds, foiling, embossing and amazing stock. Yet so many marketing gurus ignore print. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, calls print a ‘non-traditional’ strategy. But even Joe is a proponent of print marketing.
Here’s why print works:
1. Showcasing. Look at you. You’ve made something. And it’s in my hands. It’s got presence, weight. It’s tactile. As the Harvard Business Review says, “touch can also create symbolic connections between people and products, and between buyers and sellers. Physically holding products can create a sense of psychological ownership, driving must-have purchase decisions.”
2. Standing out. Google ‘Death of print’. You’ll find plenty of evidence of disappearing publications, newsletters and direct mail. Look at it another way. The right piece delivered to the right people is going to stand out. Niche publications are seeing a rise in print circulations – New Statesman up 14%, The Spectator 31%. Spectator editor Fraser Nelson says if you produce work “that is not just better but significantly better than what’s free on the web, people will pay for it”. That goes for marketing pieces and innovative design as much as magazines.
3. Hipsterdom (is that a thing?). Social media, online content and apps – they’re all part of the modern marketing mix. So how do you grab attention? With something new, something different. Print is seeing a renaissance. It’s as cool as a C90 cassette or a hunkpapa tattoo.
4. Perception. Print has a perceived value. A ‘real’ object has more value than fugitive digital content. IDEAAlliance notes “a sense among readers that if your company is willing to invest the money and energy to print and mail the message, it must be important”.
5. Stickability. Emails come and go, digital content turns off with the PC. But good print content is always there. Available to multiple readers for multiple readings. And a great printed object has a desk life.
6. Retention. 72% of B2B marketers create original content for customer retention. That’s precisely why newsletters and print magazines were developed. But only 24% nurture customers after the purchase decision is made. Clients and agencies have an enormous opportunity to keep relevant and remembered.
7. Questions. “The web is where we go to get answers, but print is where we go to ask questions,” says a publisher. A viewer comes to content from Google looking for an answer. A reader of good content is challenged to think and ask questions. As Joe Pulizzi says, “print is still the best medium for thinking outside the box – it’s lean back versus lean forward”.
Final point. Winning a pitch, charting a strategy, getting your customers’ attention. They’re all about putting the right thing in front of the right people. I spoke to designer friends about successful pitches. This was a constant theme. One designer pitched to a company that made and operated transfer vehicles for transport hubs. His rivals pitched up with boards, slide decks and words. Lots of words. Lots of jargon. He had done his research. Most of the board were engineers. He unveiled three sheets of spray-painted steel. The board went wild. He won the pitch.
Print works the same way. A real object that is immediately understood, and demonstrates creativity and innovation. You just need to have the idea, and find a print partner who can make the art work.
Photos and objects ©Tradeprint