Apr 1, 2011

Is Print Dead?

Do you really need a four-color brochure? Why bother with a printed brochure when you can just put your brochure online? What about post cards or cut sheets? With the rise of the Web many industrial marketing professionals are questioning if printing has any relevance in modern communications. I believe printed materials most emphatically do have an important, albeit different, role to play in the marketing communications field.

Many business pundits have been proclaiming that the Web would spell the death of printing. After all, how could printing compete with a seemingly no cost way of reaching millions of people all over the world? With a click of a mouse they could travel around the block, or the globe.

While these prognosticators accurately predicted the rise of the Web and a general decline in printing they couldn’t see how, in a perverse way, its very rise could be good news for printing. The fact is the very popularity of the Web is making it more important than ever to know how to effectively market with old-fashioned printed media.

The Problem With The Web
The problem with the Web is very simple – it can be very difficult to be found. Don’t let anyone tell ya any different. Anyone who thinks they can get top search engine rankings for their new site without spending big bucks (or lots of time) is sadly delusional. Once your site gets indexed by the overworked search engines you’ll be lucky to be listed in the top 100. If your manufacturing company is not in the top 10 you might as well go home.

There are millions of sites on the Web with thousands of new sites being added daily. This explosively geometrical growth means the clutter on the Web is worse than you could ever imagine. If you think getting your advertising read in a trade magazine is a tough task, then imagine how difficult it is being noticed when there are tens of thousands of businesses competing with you in any business category you’d care to think of.

While there are innumerable methods for driving traffic to your site it can still be a huge industrial marketing challenge to zero in on precise prospects or narrow target markets. This is where printed materials can really shine.

The Future Of Printing
I believe the most effective use of printing is to drive highly targeted traffic to tightly focused landing pages on your website. This may be done with sales letters, post cards, or other forms of printed materials.

If you are able to combine your direct mail with variable data printing, personalized URLs, and online video you have an amazing combination which can result in double digit response rates that will take your industrial marketing to new highs.

The good news is that if you are smart about how to use printed materials you will be able to make the Web playing field a little bit more level. Rather that trying to reach the top of the search engine rankings (highly unlikely and expensive) or paying ever-increasing amounts on pay per click engines (becoming more expensive by the day) you can utilize direct mail to drive traffic to your site. This will allow you to focus on tightly-focused markets and get your manufacturing company noticed on the Web without having to spend a fortune.

Is printing dead? No. Is printing in decline? Yes. Should you abandon it? Absolutely not.