This post is by Larry Clayman, president of our agency.
As we embark on what we affectionately refer to as “the planning season”, that time of year where we start to prepare the marketing recommendations we present to our clients for the following year, I know what we will hear again this year.
“Is there still a case for print?”
Why would our clients not ask this question? They have seen what has happened to their local newspaper. They have watched their venerable weekly news magazine Newsweek go digital. They have watched the periodicals aisle at Barnes & Noble get smaller. So the question certainly makes sense from that perspective.
But there seems to be another side to this discussion. All print is not created equal.
While there are now numerous online options for your daily, national or global news and opinion, finding good content for niche markets is not quite as easy as going to CNN.com.
There is also the question of credibility. Does your ad online carry the same weight as your ad in a print publication? If it does, why is print advertising much more expensive to purchase? Yes, some of it may be the fact that it was always priced at a certain level and it didn’t make sense to cut the price by half just because the publication now also had an online presence. What’s more, the costs associated with producing ink on paper and mailing it out were still there. But since print does cost more and since most people understand that, does your print ad carry more weight because the audience innately understands that you paid more to place that ad in print vs online? Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Content Marketing Institute, recently surmised in an article for Crain’s Cleveland Business that it might speak to the old adage, “if someone invested enough to print and mail it, it must be important.” That would speak to print media, traditional direct mail, etc.
Mr. Pulizzi went on to posit, “Traditional print magazines are not ceasing because people aren’t reading print . . .it’s because advertisers aren’t supporting the medium.”
So what we have is a classic chicken or egg argument. Is print dying simply because advertisers are abandoning it for what are largely illogical reasons or is print dying because online presents better options?
It may come down to what you are trying to accomplish. If you want to track results, nobody could argue that it is more difficult to track print results. Sure, there are ways to do it (QR codes, /URLS, etc.) but simply clicking on a link is way easier.
However, if you building your brand, nobody can convince me that print is still not king.
As a board member of BPA Worldwide (the company that audits the circulation of many publications (both print and online), I can tell you from personal experience that many publishers in niche B2B categories are still doing very well with their print product.
So when you get ready to ask “Is there still a case for print”? think before you immediately say “No”. Depending on your objectives, there just may be.