With eyeballs and attention focused on the web, rarely a day passes without someone heralding the death of print. It’s just the fashionable thing to say.
In a recent interview, it was Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s turn to hammer a nail into print’s coffin. He gave paper and ink a life expectancy of ten years before it gets binned forever, envisioning a world where all content is consumed on a Windows run machine. Whilst his prediction is music to the ears of Microsoft shareholders, we can’t see print fading away anytime soon.
It’s easy to jump on the ‘print is dead’ bandwagon based on the falling readership of newspapers and magazines. But in reality, print is merely evolving to accommodate digital and the changes in how content is consumed.
Whilst the mass market, one size fits all style of print publishing is slowly being ushered aside, new models are emerging that keep print firmly centre stage.
The debate is about change, not conflict
Readership of print has fallen dramatically in recent years, with ad revenues haemorrhaging as people switch to digital. Readers can now find breaking stories and articles of interest in a few mouse clicks. A daily newspaper or monthly magazine simply can’t compete with the immediacy of surfing the web.
However, people still like the physicality of browsing a printed publication. So there’s still a future for print if it can differentiate itself as a provider of comment, discussion and in depth analysis. If publishers want their print titles to stay profitable, they have to give readers something they can’t easily find online.
Printed newspapers and magazines need to evolve into a different type of beast altogether, one that can live in harmony, rather than conflict, with digital. Otherwise it risks becoming too costly for its masters to keep alive, and dying out altogether.
People still prefer print
When it comes to the marketing arena, if managed properly, print can continue to perform a starring role. The fact is that people still like to receive something they can touch and read at their leisure. A Pitney Bowes study found that 73% prefer to receive product announcements and offers in the mail, rather than read them on a monitor.
So with print still popular with prospects, the future lies in learning how to make best use of each medium. Every touch point needs to be integrated to deliver consistent branding, a unified message and a clearly directed sales path.
Print provides the ignition
Considering that people prefer to receive messages in print, well targeted direct mail can provide the ignition to an integrated campaign. Print’s role is to hook prospects and capture their interest before reeling them in to your branded website.
You can then use online tools to develop your message, such as video, background articles and interactive features. Once you’ve proven your credibility and won their email address, you can deliver further targeted messages and push them all the way to the end of the sales funnel.
From our Siemens campaign we experienced first hand how effective integrated campaigns can be, when both print and digital are working together to deliver a unified message.
Print’s survival depends on one factor
Whether print, in all its forms, is able to remain profitable and effective will rely on its ability to deliver the content people want in a way that’s relevant and useful.
The growth of digital is changing when people consume content, as well as how. Consumers are now in control of what messages they want to receive and when. As a result, websites are sprouting all over the web to discuss all manner of topics and to share information.
Markets are fragmenting into niches, in which people only want to receive messages that are relevant and match their interests. And that’s why the survival of print will be decided by a single factor: what people want.