Why do people assume digital channels will be enough to keep their audience enthused? Indeed, it is cheaper and can be faster to blast out there with less effort. There are assumptions that the digital age is one in which a target audience forgives neglect when it comes to printed brand representation. Those assumptions have proven dangerous for many who eventually realize their losses and come back to their marketing services providers to recoup the interest that only print on paper, on promotional products, on banners, on shirts and in the mailbox can “address.”
The old saying, “You get what you pay for” is never more evident than when a thriving brand takes a nosedive after decision-makers reduce or stop printing their message and giving it to people. Empty-handed people who have nothing to give back to such organizations are paying the price without print…and coming back to it.
Email is only a tool and a business requires a full, cross-channel marketing toolbox.
“When the economy went south in 2009/10, a lot of people turned to email to promote themselves with the idea that it is cheap. After all, it costs no money to set up an account with Mailchimp for under 250 contacts, for example. The problem is that EVERYONE started to do this and they moved away from doing newsletters, sending emails instead,” explains Tim Collins, who, along with his wife, Laura, has owned Minuteman Press in Newark, OH for the past fifteen years. Tim and Laura saw first-hand that those print ship-jumpers experienced a rapid decline in event participation as membership dried up from a flow to barely a drip.
“Digital marketing has its place but is no substitute for the tactility of print. Tim keenly recognizes this and is able to convey to customers, concisely, the advantages of print marketing to boost memberships, donations, customers, sales and profits.” – Gary Nowak, Minuteman Press Regional Vice President in Ohio
“Of our clients, the VFW and the American Legion and another learned that people delete emails more than they read them. People stopped showing up at gatherings intended to raise funds and enthusiasm. I tried to tell those clients that people may perceive digital only as passive and passive doesn’t always work, but they resisted until they encountered problems. So as people stopped reading the articles and stopped checking in because the print version wasn’t on the table, these groups took a hit where it hurts. Even though events and articles were published online, some members felt abandoned.”
90% of people surveyed believe consumers should have the right to choose how they receive communications (printed or electronic) from financial organizations and service providers. – 2017 Print and Paper in a Digital World Survey
Some of Tim’s clients came back to him and admitted that participation went down and that their own members and clients complained about the absence of connection the printed newsletter previously provided so perfectly. He continues, “The American Legion was the first to come back as their members were saying that they do not see anything about events and that is why they aren’t coming. Representatives from the non-profits told me that when they assured members emails were being sent and up to date, the news wasn’t appreciated. The response was strong that email was underwhelming by itself and was also overwhelming, generally.”
People balked at being locked into one channel, a digital one that frequently winds up in a spam folder. Others flat out felt ripped off that they weren’t worth the printing cost because they missed the newsletters and actually took the decision to cut them from the budget personally.
Receiving an email alone, especially if it was previously accompanied by a nice, printed newsletter or other more personalized printed selection, feels insulting to many. “Think about going to church,” explains Tim. “How many bulletins are kept? We take them home and save them as points of reference. Even my kids are included in this category. When they have something to do at church, they do not look it up online. They want to know, ‘When is the fish fry?’ or ‘What is going on there this weekend?’ – They look in the bulletin. Many of us enjoy eating breakfast and thumbing through them to catch up with community events. After the recession, when some of my clients tried to save money by going all digital, it wound up hurting them.”
We are not going “all digital” in society. Not now – and from the evidence, not in the future, either.
If you want to send a message to an audience, use the artistry and charm of print and do not second-guess that part of your budget.
As Tim Collins advises in the capacity of marketing services expert, keep these two points in mind:
- You will overcome the ‘junk mail’ stigma if you are make your logo prominent, target your audience and use quality stock and have a strong design
- Do not discard digital. Incorporate it as part of a careful strategy to cover all preferences.
As the clients in Tim’s loyal base return to print, they are realizing gains as participation and membership flows increase. “When these groups first stopped ordering newsletters in an attempt to save funds during lean times, they started using those funds for other things, so the return was resisted. However, the American Legion returned to newsletters about nine months ago and they say that they saw an increase in every event they have had since the first round was printed and distributed. Plus, members are so much happier now with both channels available to them again. For the $90 they spend every quarter on print, the very first event afterwards saw twice as many people engaged than the year before, without the newsletter.”
It took this group a drop in membership of 50% before realizing they needed print to stay relevant, an ironic contradiction of the idea that modern marketing is best wrapped only in digital messages. Tim expands on this, “My own paper suppliers tried sending me newsletters via email-only. I never read them because I get one-hundred and fifty emails a day. They learned they need to call me or if they are smart, they deliver a printed invitation to whatever it is they are doing. I have one pinned up on my board right now.”
Real estate agents also underestimate print (to a loss sometimes). “I tell them that with Every Door Direct Mail, for thirty-five cents per piece, they send their good news of sales to two-hundred people in the exact area that needs to see it. It is a cheap, effective way to drum up business.”
Tim is happy to receive and realign those organizations misled by the digital hype in society today only to suffer needless loss. It is what Minuteman Press franchise owners do and why they can say, ‘We Are the Modern Printing Industry’. He adds, “There are people who stray to email only, but you really can’t quit print because the people who want it will look for it. That’s the power of print, really. It doesn’t go away.”