Technology has never been as prominent as it is today, and the digital revolution has rendered many traditional practices irrelevant. However, despite the demise of certain industries, others remain strong by evolving to meet the needs of contemporary consumers.
Print serves as the most prevalent example of a market that has been impacted by the digital boom. Newspapers are not finding their print publications to be especially lucrative anymore, and some – like the long-running Seattle Post-Intelligencer – have ditched their print offerings in favor of an exclusively digital format.
But such developments do not mean that the print industry as a whole is going under. On the contrary, companies that have adapted to better reflect the modern climate are buoyed by a simple truth: Print is powerful and durable.
Print must be innovative to remain relevant
Warren Johnson, a veteran of the public relations and marketing industries, wrote for Marketing Interactive that print publications need to focus on becoming comprehensive brands to stay viable in today's market. Establishing strong relationships with consumers is vital for companies that offer print products, he said, and the media is probably the area in which this advice is most relevant.
In coming years, Johnson predicted that publishers will become more focused on creating multiple revenue streams to keep their organizations afloat, while businesses that operate primarily on e-commerce platforms will look to expand their offerings and delve into the content production area.
The key term, according to the author, is commercial. Print publications need to re-establish themselves as not just publishers, but commercial brands that have various types of products. Johnson elaborated on this idea using one of his clients as an example – top-selling fashion magazine Elle. This publication has combined its traditional print initiatives with new, digitally-oriented offerings. Elle has introduced mobile platforms and expanded its reach to producing travel guides and beauty products and distributing style awards. While the magazine's primary area of profitability will continue to be its print publication, it has clearly recognized the value of a comprehensive product line that spans multiple verticals.
Longtime printers are moving online, but this is hardly a one-way street. Digital companies are also aiming to diversify their offerings by moving offline.
E-commerce can be supplemented by print
Entrepreneur contributor Katherine Halek wrote that print can be a vital part of supporting a digital company. She asserted that print is more engaging to consumers, which can help develop brand resonance. Print can enhance vibrant color schemes and appealing graphics that may not be as engaging online. Halek said that this can help create a tactile memory that recipients can associate with the organization.
Even businesses that were born online can benefit from using print marketing. The writer advised that such content can present a more personable face and also build credibility among consumers.
But how can print make an impact on actual sales for exclusively digital companies? After all, it's not like consumers can click on a URL that is included in a physical flier.
According to Halek, print can drive traffic through the use of catalogs and integrated social media campaigns. Many online retailers use print catalogs to provide a convenient and accessible way to browse through products and offerings. Consumers can then purchase the items from the publications that they like online, and Halek noted that there are even apps which allow customers to interact with their catalogs digitally.
Likewise, the use of print marketing can supplement – and steer audience members toward – social media campaigns, she said. This can be particularly useful for companies that have a wide range of customers, including multiple generations. Halek pointed out that older consumers may be more inclined to appreciate a physical piece of marketing, while younger people who were born into a tech-oriented world might be more impacted by social media or other online content.
In addition to bridging the gap between old and new methods of appealing to buyers, Halek stressed the effectiveness of calls to action. For example, she advised the inclusion of hashtags or other online promotions in print marketing pieces, which can help stimulate consumers and compel them to interact with the organization through various different media. Halek attested that print and social media do not have to be rivals – they can complement each other very effectively to form a comprehensive and integrated marketing campaign that appeals to a wide range of potential clientele.
The contemporary print market is vastly different from the way it was decades – or even years – ago. But this does not mean that printers are doomed. Rather, they need to be evolve to meet the demands of their clients. A fully developed and multimedia brand that spans multiple platforms and focuses on providing marketing services to clients can help to establish a print company as an innovator.