One of the greatest challenges that plague print companies today is an increasing number of organizations falsely assuming all aspects of their business should be moved to a digital platform. Although the Internet of Things has provided companies across virtually all industries with advanced capabilities and functionalities that make communicating and executing operations easier and faster than ever before, it has not completely eliminated the need for traditional strategies.

Contrary to popular belief, the print industry is far from dead. In fact, research studies have revealed that, when it comes to advertising and marketing, paper media may actually trump digital. In a world where most companies are turning their attention toward internet marketing, the businesses that use paper advertisements may be more effective at engaging target audiences.

It is imperative that print service companies stay informed as to the effectiveness of direct mail pieces so they are able to provide organizations across all industries with the enhanced, cost-effective solutions that will help improve their bottom lines.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to successful advertising, but it is important that companies are selective in their strategies. Today, corporate leaders are faced with a wide variety of channels and platforms for communicating with potential customers. Amidst the growing conversation and demand for digital marketing, print media can't be forgotten.

Traditional marketing and paper ads
Some people believe that printed ads and direct mail are a thing of the past. However, Sarah Cosgrove of Print Week recently reported that research conducted by Wilmington Millennium found that 48 percent of people – a 7 percent increase from 2014 – believe they are a good way to connect with consumers. In addition, the organization found that 44 percent of respondents consider direct mail their preferred form of direct marketing, whereas only 42 percent said they favor emails. Businesses that rely solely on Web-based advertisements may want to rethink their approach, considering the survey also revealed that digital pop-ups are the least preferred.

"Customers are approaching direct mail communications far more readily than they were in the past," Karen Pritchard, Mortascreen Product Director, told the source. "There was a point when there was far too much untargeted mail being sent out. When a correctly addressed and targeted piece of DM comes through the door, they are not seeing that as intrusive in the same way as a pop-up for example. They are annoying, whereas mail you can digest at your own pace."

This is not the only research that has indicated that the print industry will continue to be a vital component in business advertising and marketing. A study conducted by consumer neuroscience researchers at Temple University, in collaboration with the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, or OIG, examined the difference between physical and digital media and assessed which medium is more likely to influence people into making a purchase. 

The findings showed that, although digital content is processed more quickly, people generally spend more time engaging with physical ads. Furthermore, paper media elicited more of an emotional response and, after a week, the participants were able to remember the physical advertisements better than the digital ones. The study also found that there is more brain activity happening when handling paper materials.

However, this is not to say that print is the only form of communication needed.

"These findings have practical implications for marketers. If short on time, the digital format captures attention quicker," the researchers explained in the report. "However, for longer lasting impact and easy recollection, a physical mail piece is the superior option that could lead to a purchase. This suggests a complementary effect between the two formats that could provide a powerful way for marketers to optimize their media mix, especially as companies look to reach digitally connected customers."

Print and digital solutions
This blended strategy is an approach some businesses are already taking. An InfoTrends Micro to Mega study found that 35 percent of businesses are connecting print and digital media and nearly half are their advertising efforts combine the two types of media, the organization's group director, Barb Pellow, reported in an article for WhatTheyThink. The study also showed that, when assessing a print service provider, one of the most important things companies look at are cross-channel capabilities, with top factor being "the ability to meet deadlines, quality and cost."

In navigating where print is best used as opposed to digital, it is important for organizations to have a broad range of options and access to a managed print distribution company that can make implementing paper solutions seamless. Therefore, in order to position themselves as ideal solutions providers, printing companies must work with vendors that can offer on-demand invoicing, warehouse and order management solutions and real-time reporting.

Web-based content offers many benefits. It is often inexpensive, wide-reaching and easy to distribute. However, there are so many advantages to using tangible materials that they are a staple in business operations. While most companies are struggling to stand out online, many are failing to see the opportunities they are missing out on by not using traditional channels of communication.

Although the digitalization of business is demanding the attention of corporate executives, it is crucial that organizations are able to recognize and understand the powerful role direct mail and paper advertisements play in modern marketing strategies.