Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Determining Print Marketing Value in 2019 and Beyond" continues to be a conversation among brands and marketers as the digital onslaught proceeds unabated as the future unfolds. Of course there is constant clamoring hammering a plethora of reasons why print marketing's future is dying. Further, it's also common knowledge that the majority of news outlets have moved to online channels. Notwithstanding any of the above, media agencies have also updated their business models to acquiesce to consumer digital demands. However, it is not without notice that news outlets and print marketing have parted ways to an extent, and that most notably direct mail marketing is actually experiencing a resurgence of sorts in recent years.
We know that print marketing continues to enjoy credulity by the fact that direct mail marketing not only cuts through the clutter, but also adds to digital conversion and response rates. Many data mining organizations have concluded that the value of using print's direct marketing tool is making a difference in bottom line ROI. That said, the elephant in the room is whether or not print marketing will continue to be part of a viable marketing mix in the future. Let's take a hard look at the advertising and marketing challenges looming in the near future.
A prerequisite that will help in determining print marketing's value in the future is not one based solely on infrastructural advancements and technological upgrades, but moreover that which focuses on behavioral trends. To that end, let's dive in!
Social Media Usage Downtrending in 2018
The Infinite Dial 2018 report has uncovered in new research that social media usage in America increased by an avg of 7.77% over the past 9 years. This year it is down by 4%. Facebook is down 5% points and Twitter is down as well. This is the first time in history that Facebook and Twitter have experienced a downturn in usage by its members. No doubt the toxicity of political engagements are and continue to take a toll on pushing users away from the social media channels. Of course some would argue that technology is also playing a role, with the advent of a rise in social media channels becoming compromised due to hacking along with the fact that there appears to be an inability to shut that trend down.
In addition, what could be the driver behind the decline in social media usage is the fact that falsehoods and lies are permeating social media channels to the extent that folks are just turned off. Truth trumps uncertainty and because now more than ever, folks are in search of honesty and truthfulness above all other considerations, that puts social media in the cross-hairs of most any user. We contend that social media is here to stay, but will need to undergo a radical departure from the current technology that allows false information to be spread as the gospel truth. That said, remember the old adage, "Truth in Advertising?" It's now more important than ever.
Print Appeals to High End Consumers
High end, upscale consumers continue to respond to well designed catalogs, luxury publications and direct mail pieces that speak their language. Online marketing fails to achieve the tactile, emotive responses high end consumers are experiencing with direct mail marketing. At the end of the day, marketers need to create a workable solution to balance print marketing with digital marketing. That said, print's capability to deliver high end collateral to the demand of high end niche targets hungry for print marketing collateral should ensure that print's marketing value will be around for years to come.
Print Cuts Through the Digital Mess
Yes, the digital onslaught delivering upwards of four to ten thousand messages per day is overwhelming to say the least. Brands and marketers are in a quandary to develop content that will cut through, however, all things considered, that may just be one challenge to conquer. Snagging a prospect or customer's attention in a nano-second time slot is extremely challenging, many believe it's partly responsible for driving up digital marketing budgets, in that it now takes multiple posts, round the clock to possibly gain access to a target's attention.
While print overall has declined with newspapers, magazines, and other printed vehicles, the direct mail marketing piece of print is gaining ground on its effectiveness in sending prospects to online destinations. This is print's sweet spot, in that print cuts through in ways digital marketing has failed to accomplish thus far. As long as print can be delivered to physical locations, print has a great chance to remain viable well into the future.
Print Versus Screen Responsive Technology
Courtney Dale, ICM Consulting and Media Corporation makes the case that: "Paper and other static fabrics do not provide the features that the future of advertising will come to depend on. They are heavy, inconvenient, unchangeable, wasteful and ultimately outdated. The moment something is printed, it's frozen in time. Audiences want to see vivid, immersive, dynamic displays that are time relevant down to the minute."
In questioning whether or not print can provide beneficial features for the future of advertising requirements pitted against "paper and other static fabrics" is unclear for a variety of reasons. It's important to remember that with the advent of database management's capability to fine tune targeting via big data, is when direct mail started to enjoy a resurgent value of sorts. Print has also emerged with a handful of new attributes such as embossing, debossing, die cuts, and new ink types such as metallics and others.
As far as screen responsive technologies go, there is no comparison to what the human eye can experience with live 3D materials as opposed to seeing them on a 4k or 5K monitor. That said, while Mr. Dale's observation deserves thoughtful consideration, and he may be right, could it also be that the print model we are experiencing today will also morph into something completely different tomorrow? For example, will print technology be able to create print collateral from materials other than paper or fabric? This excludes current 3D printing for objects, etcetera. Right now, as far as weight is concerned, postcards are extremely effective and most weigh very little. Overall, print marketing's future will rely on a number of unknown technological endeavors, some of which have yet to come. However, it does suggest that print marketing will have to evolve, and in part will be based on the effectiveness, or lack thereof of what's transpiring in the online world.
When Paper Availability Becomes Too Expensive
In the far future, the argument ensues that suggests whole populations will emerge that will experience all things digital. The idea that paper will have little value if any, as paper cost continue to rise should spur a debate today. For one, Millennials, GenXers and GenZers, all prefer reading printed books, receiving printed catalogs and direct mail pieces that points them to online destinations. Why is that relevant? All these folks are digital natives! Think about that for a moment. In a digital world, a native digital population prefers some aspects of direct mail print collateral.
While newspapers and magazines may eventually become extinct, direct mail should survive, even in the event that mail boxes are replaced by a mail door access point. As long as there are delivery services, direct mail should be able to survive the near future. The distant future of say 15 to 20 years out or more is uncertain on a variety of issues, and the unfolding of the future is one we should all be paying attention to.
Expect Fully Integrated Print and Digital Campaigns
Today, a handful of iconic brands have taken the leap to incorporate both print and digital into fully integrated marketing campaigns, most notably, Google, a leader in direct mail postcard marketing. Having print as an integrated piece of a digital marketing campaign is particularly effective for product launches, brand announcements, or even product updates and service contract renewals to name a few.
Creating an integrated print and digital marketing campaign bridges the best of both worlds. Online visits rise, better tracking happens and more data is collected from both sources which in turn provides a better look into consumer habits and purchasing numbers.
The analysis and debate of determining print marketing's value in 2019 and beyond will no doubt continue in this era of accountability. As new technological advances are introduced into the world of marketing, there will be periods of adjustment and new behavior habits will be recognized. However, for now, print marketing is serving the digital marketplace with distinction, and to that end is deemed a valuable marketing component for just about any marketing campaign. Thanks for reading "Determining Print Marketing Value in 2019 and Beyond."
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