In 2015, print is probably not the first form of media that comes to mind when one hears the word "marketing." But recent statistics and trends seem to indicate that print is still an intelligent, strong and viable way to market products and services.

Indeed, various retailers that had either scaled back or dispatched of their physical catalogs over the past decade are beginning to expand their efforts. In fact, certain companies that were founded on a digital-only platform have begun to offer print alternatives in an attempt to grow their comprehensive, multimedia brands. 

Catalog mailings reach highest interest level since 2007
The Harvard Business Review cited a recent Direct Marketing Association study that noted catalog mailings increased to 11.9 billion in 2013. The research found a level of interest unseen in the industry since 2007.

Companies like J.C. Penney, which eliminated its print catalog offering recently, are starting to come back to publishing. Multi-channel shopping is a burgeoning trend in the online retail sector, and this development leans heavily upon the existence of print publications in order to drive traffic. The source reported that Nordstrom customers who have a multi-channel relationship with the company spend four times as much as those who do not have such interactions. Bonobos, a formerly online-only retailer, has experienced similar results, with 20 percent of its first-time customers placing orders after viewing a catalog.

The HBR asserted that with the birth of the digital era – and the subsequent increase in accessibility for marketing campaigns – has come the necessity of engaging more deeply with potential consumers in order to gain advantages. Ironically, digital marketing is so commonly used that it is now significantly harder to stand out from the masses, which means that marketers need to branch out to different strategies in order to compete.

Print marketing has been the answer for many retailers, as the tactile feel and aesthetic value of a catalog have proven useful in steering consumers to online shops or physical stores. The HBR said that print content is likely to continue to grow in importance in the coming years, as it becomes harder to differentiate products that are marketed on the same digital platform. Integration is a key to success in developing a comprehensive, inclusive and multi-channel marketing initiative in 2015. 

Establishing tangible connections with potential consumers
Furniture retailer Z Gallerie, which has 60 stores across the United States and offers fresh style to traditional household commodities, determined that in order to best assimilate its brand into the consumer market, it needed to be immersive and omnipresent, according to Direct Marketing News. The company aims not to keep up with industry trends, but, rather, to create them. While considering options to best expand its brand, the organization came up with an engaging solution that would best enamor prospective customers: employing a mix of print and digital media to reflect its comprehensive approach. 

Z Gallerie took on the task of using print to market to an increasingly digitalized world by releasing a premier seasonal catalog that was intended to be gripping for readers, with vivid colors and graphics designed to promote resonance among customers. Direct Marketing News noted that the tangibility of the publication was engaging for consumers and offered an aesthetic appeal that digital marketing cannot replicate. 

Not only did this print-centric campaign work; it impacted the company's social media attempts, as well. Soon after it was published and distributed, marketers at Z Gallerie began to notice an unexpected, but most certainly welcome, trend. People were taking pictures of the contents of the catalog and posting them on Instagram, lauding the retailers' products and artistic publication. 

Ever since this phenomenon first occurred, Z Gallerie has been promoting the use of Instagram to drive organic brand growth, Direct Marketing News said. The company has found an important balance between using print and digital resources to achieve effective marketing, and the dividends have paid off. Through the use of the hashtag campaign #PagesOfStyle, Z Gallerie saw a 26 percent increase in catalog sign-ups and a 17 percent increase in branded user-generated content after just one month, the source reported. The retailer reached close to seven million potential consumers in that period. 

Despite the digital boom that has completely reinvented the global economy over the past two decades or so, the best way to achieve overall success in marketing and branding appears to include old-fashioned print catalogs. With a strategy that spans multiple forms of media and extends information to the highest number of consumers possible, retailers can establish themselves as leaders within their industries and take a step ahead of the pack. Consumers have positive experiences when dealing with multi-channel marketing initiatives, and companies have experienced increased success in terms of outreach when using integrated campaigns.