2017: The Rise of Print

I’m going to start 2017 with some ramblings on the state of print. And in the process, I’ll jumpstart this blog. Because, why not?

As a marketer, what is your biggest concern? I’m guessing you’re looking to drive sales. And as a part of that process, you hope to see an ROI on your marketing programs.

Now you might be wondering: How does this guy connect what he does (which is in effect, putting dots on paper – see what I did there?) with what I do? Read on.

I think it’s important to first realize that print is experiencing a renaissance. Ad budgets are decreasing, publishers are hurting and marketing budgets are getting slimmer. Print, which used to have its own line item in marketing budgets, is no longer a marketer’s best friend. And from a guy with 30 years of print perspective, we can no longer do things the way we’ve always done them.

Note I said print is evolving; it is not dead. That’s because there are dozens of studies that show that a targeted direct marketing campaign still has a greater ROI than any digital campaign. According to the 2015 Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Response Rate Report across all industries, the overall response rate for direct mail is 3.7%, compared with 0.1% for both email and social-media marketing campaigns. The new print, combined with technology, can be just as relevant as it always was. And perhaps even more so.

OK so how do we make print relevant to you in 2017?

Use your data. Every company collects data. We have more data these days than we know what to do with. However, the critical part here is harnessing that data, and using it effectively to target your audience. It’s going to be really important to craft a strategy around your analytics, parse out your data and determine a way to best use it in marketing. What does this mean? It means marketing, IT and operations will have to learn how to collaborate across the organization to help move the company forward. No more data silos.

Hyper-personalize your communications. I’m a print guy at heart (I dream of dots on paper) but I always try and wear a marketing lens when I’m looking at how our clients want to share/communicate their information. How many emails do you get a day? Hundreds? Thousands? They all blend together, right? Too much mass email. There is power in personalization. The importance of companies using data (see above) to target consumers cannot be stressed enough. What if you could hyper personalize a message to your consumers? Caslon and Co., a global consulting company, in its “1-to-1 Response Rate Report” shows the impact relevance that personalized digital print is having on cross-media marketing response rates: On average, across all major vertical markets and marketing applications, relevance can deliver more than four times the response of static, same-to-all messaging. Make it targeted, don’t make it creepy.

Take advantage of automated print solutions. Remember how I said above that we printers need to take advantage of technology? Enter automation technology. These solutions are making print more cost effective for companies. Print only when you need to and in the quantity that you need to. With this technology, employees are able to upload their content to the cloud and order those materials to be printed and shipped anywhere around the world. Let’s say you want to utilize a personalized direct mail piece as part of an overall marketing campaign. You can utilize marketing automation solutions with really cool print technology. Print, ship and receive real-time feedback all while utilizing technology. In 2017, try using print as a tactic in a larger, multi-channel strategy.

Happy 2017, and look for more of my thoughts next week. Exciting, right?

How do you think print is evolving? Leave your comments below.