Is Print Marketing Still Viable?

This entry was posted on November 29, 2011 by Julie

There’s no doubt we live in the electronic age. Every household and business owns at least one computer, our electronic devices are all integrated, and no one could possibly get along without a smart phone! Even someone like me, conservative and a bit old fashioned, loves my electronics. I’m toying with the idea of a Kindle or Nook. You know, a sleek, slim electronic device that would give me instant access to any book I want. And in the business of advertising and marketing, the world of electronics has exploded. Everyone has a website and does email marketing and blogging (although whether or not they do it well is for another discussion).

So does that mean that print advertising and marketing are on their way out? Not in my book (pardon the pun). As much as I am attached to my computer, I have to print out anything of any substance to read it. For some reason, it just doesn’t sink in off a screen. And back to that e-reader idea. It sounds so easy but then I wouldn’t have any more books. And books are so special. They have a special feel that words on a screen can’t replace.

So what does that have to do with marketing? Everything! Why do businesses work so hard to develop a brand? Because a brand tells their market who they are, what they stand for. It gives their customer a cognizant and emotional awareness of them or their product. Marketing their brand is all about teaching that customer a desired sense of how they look, smell, sound and feel. We want our customers to remember our brand to learn who and what we are and feel connected to us.

On a computer screen, I can have words and ideas and pictures and motion and sound – all great visual and auditory ways to communicate. These are wonderful tools to “teach” visual and auditory learning customers. But there’s nothing tactile. There’s no “feel.” So, is “feel” really that important? Ask a kinesthetic learner – someone who best remembers something they’ve experienced, not heard or seen.

Think about buying a new car. You can see the model you’re interested in online. A website will give you an idea of color and interior choices. But it doesn’t really give you a feeling. Now go to the showroom and pick up one of those slick brochures. Substantial paper with beautiful, glossy photographs and maybe some laminating give that car a glamorous feeling. It feels really luxurious and sleek – just what I want in my next car. I like the way it feels.

There is just something about paper and ink or embossing or foil stamping or laminating that express a feel like nothing else can. Textured papers in rich colors with understated foil stamping or blind embossing give a feeling of affluence and prosperity. Glossy stocks with brilliant photographs and lustrous laminating feel glamorous, polished and showy. Even unbleached recycled stocks with plain old ink give a real feel of nature.

So even though I remain excited about new technology, I think it would be a mistake for businesses to consider print vehicles obsolete. Many of us still need to touch and hold things to assess their character and value.

  • Joanne Gore says:

    What a great article! I have been a marketer for nearly 20 years, focusing on B2B Technology companies. My background, however is print; my degree is in Graphic Design. I actually wrote an article that was published yesterday that follows the same line of thought as yours. Although the print industry has taken a definite hit over the last several years, I still firmly believe that print has its place….and it is the printers’ responsibility to educate their customers as to all the various options, new technologies, papers, inks, etc., to complement and augment a variety of marketing program objectives.

  • Al Fiala says:

    Scott – When it comes to advertising, print is definatley still viable.
    In most markets, the local newspaper has a larger audience than
    any local TV station, radio station or online presence.
    There is also research (Source: Fred Magid Associates) that shows
    the newspapers are the most trusted form of advertising, the type of advertising that is most looked forward, best for planning shopping and bringing sales to attention of consumers. The other thing to remember is that in most markets, the local newspaper also has the area’s most viewed website. Most also mobile and direct marketing solutions as well.

  • Marc Zazeela says:


    Perhaps the paradigm is shifting. Over the last several years, marketers have moved to digital marketing as a way to cut costs and to stay relevant. That surge has led to millions more email messages being sent and millions of annoyed businesses and consumers that have had to contend with all of the SPAM.

    Direct mail/print marketing is safe (read trustworthy), not as intrusive, and has a longer shelf life. More expensive? Yes. Depending on your real objective, more expensive can also mean more profits.


  • Julie says:

    Great points Marc. And many business people will tell you, you have to spend money to make money. Spending in the right place is, of course, key. That’s where choosing the right partners, those who have insight and expertise in all areas of marketing, to help you plan your approach is so important.

  • Patricia Raggio says:

    Hi, Scott ~ I’m a sales rep for a Long Island printing company. My opinion is that a printed piece oftentimes serves as a catalyst to drive perspective buyers to one’s website. For example, when I receive certain catalogs such as LLBean, there might be an article of clothing which interests me. Thereafter, I go to their website, catalog in hand, to find it! I enjoyed your article. Best regards ~ Pat 🙂