Six Common Print Marketing Myths Debunked
In this day in age, you cannot avoid being exposed to marketing and ads even if you wanted to.
The fast pace of people’s lifestyles require constant exposure to ads, otherwise, how would you know what store offers the best deal, or where is the new promotion of a service or product, and how would you know that an event you could be interested in is taking place somewhere near you?
Whether you are searching the Web, watching TV, listening to the radio, or reading a magazine on the commute, you will come across hundreds of ads.
Which ones stick to your mind depends on your personal affinities (e.g. a car enthusiast will probably not remember a lipstick ad) and many other parameters that come into the process of making and placing ads.
Each brand, whether it is offering a service or a product, aims to jump-start or boost their business and the ads are the way to do that.
On the first glance, an appropriate means of distribution, that is keeping up the pace with the world, would be digital advertising – website, online ads, banners, social media ads and so on. (There are a lot more marketing strategies, read on them here.)
However, the old-school print advertising can still compete with the digital advertising, and in some cases, it even has leverage over it.
There are some of the misconceptions about print advertising in today’s world.
MYTH NO. 1 – PRINT ADVERTISING IS DEAD
With the development of technology and more and more areas of our life being digitalized, it has been a growing belief that the print, as a medium, is dying.
That this is not true, witnesses the fact that you can still see people carrying around their newspaper and magazines.
Studies have shown that the majority of people still prefer the hard-copy issue than the online counterpart of the newspaper they enjoy reading.
On the other hand, there have been studies that show that the so-called ‘Millennials’ (people born in the period from 1980 until 2000) do not shy away from the print, even though the main characteristic of the age group is that they spend more time on their phones or laptops than any other age group.
Some would argue that the people in question are remnants of older generations, those who grew up in the times where the only medium for ads were newspaper and magazines and that print media will die with them.
Another aspect that suggests that print advertising is not dead and probably will not die is the aspect of trust. If people purchase newspaper continuously for years or subscribe to a magazine, they trust the content of the publication.
If they find the content trustworthy and usually consistent, they will in all likelihood trust the content of the ads that can be found on the pages.
The consumers are aware that placing an ad in a magazine is pricey, so they inherently perceive the content of the ad as more reliable as the business is ready to invest. They know where it came from, and they do not question the ad’s integrity.
On the other hand, anyone can put anything on the internet, which makes the internet content less reliable in the eyes of the consumers.
In addition, newspaper and magazines are not the only means of print advertising. There are always business cards, pamphlets, brochures and even promotional materials like calendars, or notebooks with the company’s logo.
Your potential consumers will likely keep some of them lying around, and eventually, they will be compelled to look at them, and more often than not, take some action in the direction of purchasing your service.
MYTH NO. 2 – PRINT ADVERTISING IS NOT “GREEN”
In the years where global warming is an ongoing issue, and a real threat, people are getting more and more ecologically conscious.
We are creating eco-friendly environments, turning to organic products rather than those containing harmful chemicals, using paper instead of plastic bags, or even cotton bags as they can be used over and over.
Individuals, as well as entire factories, are ‘going green’ in order to help preserve the healthy environment.
Cutting down entire forests has proven one of the biggest reasons for the increased level of carbon dioxide that is harmful to the Earth’s protective atmosphere.
So why do we argue that print advertising actually can be ‘green’ if what it uses is, in fact, paper?
The thing is, if you are ecologically conscious there are things that you can pay attention to when using print advertising. First of all, use papers that are made out of pre-consumer recycled content from sustainable plantations.
Pay attention that it is not chlorine bleached as chlorine is highly harmful to the environment.
You can also refrain from using any kind of bleach whatsoever, as it gives your ads a nice vintage look, that can separate your ads from the majority of others (the texture of recycled paper differs from the regular white papers, engaging the sense of touch, but more on that later).
It also implies a sense of tradition as well as an awareness of the world’s contemporary issues.
Using eco-friendly ink is also an important notion. With the development of technology, UV inks have been created that do not use any harmful chemicals.
Also, ‘green’ printers use vegetable rather than petrol based ink, it is not harmful to the environment as it is organic, and is easy to remove in the recycling process.
Modern eco printers offer the option of reusing and reducing waste as they have the scrap paper recycled into newsprint, which does not require bleaching with any chemicals. Also, ‘going green’ means that as much as your production should be powered by renewable sources.
When using biodegradable materials you are helping the environment.
Place a sign that you are printing on recyclable and recycled materials, and you will attract more of the growing population that is becoming ecologically conscious since you are sharing their belief system.
Here is an overview of environmentally friendly materials for green printing.
MYTH NO. 3 – PRINT ADVERTISING DOES NOT HAVE A WIDE REACH AND ACCURATE TARGETING
Some market researchers would argue that in opposition to digital marketing, print advertising has a much narrower reach.
If you only consider the number of people that are using the Internet on an everyday basis, it could appear that way. Everyone is ‘on the internet’, constantly exposed to the ads.
However, how many of those ads you actually relate to depends solely on what interests you. The majority of ads seem as if only randomly positioned on the Internet.
Think about gaming ads when you are browsing for new movies; or about make-up advertising when you are reading a text on the benefits of exercising regularly.
Since the ad often does not have any real connection to the website it is found on, consumers consider them redundant, and even annoying.
This, then, leads to acquiring any of the ‘adblock’ applications (that can be found online for free) and they inherently limit the reach of the ads.
Why is it that print advertising has an adequate reach? First of all, there are various options for print materials – leaflets, brochures, business cards, billboards, flyers and so on. Each of those materials is appealing to different types of demographics, and have their own use and effect.
Another thing is geographical convenience. It is much easier to reach a group in the local community you wish to attract, by placing an ad in the local newspaper, than for example, if you place it online.
If you are browsing the internet, and come across an ad informing you about a new restaurant opening on the other side of the country you wouldn’t care, and the ad is mute in that case.
However, if you place it in the local newspaper or print flyers, you are more likely to attract customers and keep in business.
Targeting also plays a crucial role in the success of print marketing.
Since it is more expensive than online advertising, you the companies pay attention to the content of the ad. The detailed information attracts consumers who are ready to purchase your product or use your service, rather than those who are just perusing.
Placing your ad in the specific magazines reaches the consumers who might be interested in what you are selling.
Since people who subscribe or regularly read a certain magazine, or more magazines of the same general subject are usually interested in what they are reading and, by extension, they are interested in your product. Let us look at an example.
You are working for the mass producing decorative cosmetics company. Where would you place your ad? In the National Geographic magazine, or Architectural Digest? Probably not.
You will aim at Cosmopolitan or a similar magazine, whose readers would mostly be interested in new advancements in decorative cosmetics. (We are not saying that the readers of the Architectural Digest and National Geographic are not interested in cosmetics, it is just not why they buy the magazine.)
One more thing that advertising in magazines and newspaper offers is the ability to attach a free promotional package of a product.
MYTH NO. 4 – PRINT ADVERTISING IS INEFFECTIVE
If you are one of those people who consider print advertising a waste of resources, think again.
Okay, you can’t easily follow the numbers of people engaging with your ad, like you can when you are counting clicks and likes on the online platform, that is true, but recent studies have shown that more people take action after getting information from printed rather than online ads.
It is explained by the overflow of ads on the Internet. Too much digital exposure leads to the effect that the online ad is not as effective as the printed one.
Imagine this scenario. You are on your laptop, working. Chances are, you have more than one tab open, on each of those pages there are one to five ads.
You are composing an e-mail, checking flight availability for your next trip, reading an online newspaper, and, more often than not, you are messaging a friend or a family member through one (or more) social media account.
You are a tech-savvy, well-educated individual who is proud of their multitasking skills that save you time.
If we said that there are one to five ads on each of those pages, how many did you remember, or even notice? Unless you are particularly interested in a certain ad, you probably will not remember any of the ads.
This is because your already stretched out attention is focusing on what you are doing, and unconsciously eliminating the side information, especially if they are not closely related to your interests. Online ads are fleeting and fast and thus, their message often evades us.
And what about this scenario? You took your child to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger and a coke. After you have paid, the cashier gives you a pamphlet with coupons. You are thinking to yourself “I don’t need this, we don’t eat fast food much anyway…”.
You look at the expiry date, and it is a month from now, now you think that there is a chance that your child would like to have a happy meal sometime during that month, and you decide not to throw the coupons away. You might even pay more attention to the coupons and choose to save those for the food you and your child enjoy.
You then forget about it for a while, but you will occasionally see them peeking out of your wallet, and you decide to go and use them.
The print advertising is a constant reminder of the offer it deals with, and more often than not, it will encourage you to take action in the direction of using the product or the service it offers.
What could be the downside of the effectiveness of print advertising, is that it is not fit to use in time-sensitive offers if the offer lasts for a short time.
Then it is preferable to use online advertising as you can quickly update your ad in order to reach the consumers.
MYTH NO. 5 – PRINT ADVERTISING IS EXPENSIVE
This is not as much a myth, as it is a fact that print advertising takes up resources, but we will try to argue for why you should invest in print ads anyway.
We already mentioned that the act of trust you put in your own product by investing in advertising it provokes the same trust in the eyes of the consumers. (The company believes in it, so why shouldn’t I?) People’s nature is that is influenced by the society’s standards (and vice versa), and the print advertising offers the sense of exclusivity.
Take, for instance, a copy of the Vogue. Over a hundred shiny pages of good looking men and women wearing clothes that you want to be wearing are right in your hands. You somehow feel related to those people and the content of the magazine.
Now, have you ever noticed that about the third of those pages are actually ads? Investing in those ads could be quite pricey, but the action you get afterward pays out.
In addition to that, you can choose the size of your ad (is it a whole page, half page, quarter page, and so on), the shape and color, placement and so on based on your advertising budget.
You can choose which print material you are going to use: local or national newspaper, shiny magazines, pamphlets or brochures, etc.
If you are new in the business or struggling with a budget, you can turn to agencies that could help you place your ad as best as possible according to your financial possibilities.
Another thing worth mentioning is that print lasts.
But how does that reflect on your ads?
Okay, let us say that you are offering a service that is not limited by time, you just want to advertise your business.
If you place your ad in a magazine or newspaper, you can count on the fact that people will hold on to that copy for a while. (Do you have a stack of old magazines that you turn to for amusement in the idle days?). They can also get passed on from one person to another, so more people see your ad.
And have you noticed a stack of magazines that can be several years old in beauty salons?
Psychology suggests that people are hoarders in nature, so it is hard for us to throw something away that we would think.
This is why we keep old business cards or keep a few of the promotional pamphlets lying around.
Another reason why you should consider investing in print advertising is that it engages another sense-touch. Engaging the touch makes the print ads more memorable, than when it only engages sight as with online ads.
It is easier for people to memorize something if it engages more of their senses, and touch is one of the first senses to develop. Sensory input coming from touch creates a sense of owning what you are holding, a sense of familiarity with the material.
This is why haptics, the neuroscience of touch, deals with the role of touch in marketing. Watch this series of six videos to better understand how touch works for you in terms of paying off.
MYTH NO. 6 – PRINT ADVERTISING REQUIRES TOO MUCH WORK FROM THE CUSTOMER
Admittedly, it is easier to click on a link provided in the online ads in order to get more information about the offer.
This is why print is considered more complicated since there is no direct link.
However, since the advertising area is limited, the print ads contain more focused information, without any side information that can potentially be confusing, and a company usually would not spend money on an ad that doesn’t have enough targeted information for the customer.
On the other hand, every smartphone today has a QR code reader (and if not, there are free, downloadable versions), so putting QR codes on your printed ads can somewhat help you track the interest of the consumers, as well as integrate the printed with the digital, traditional with modern and lessen the ‘workload’ the customer needs in order to purchase your product.
We already talked about the importance of touch and the sense of owning something.
The material and the customer’s hands mean that they are one step closer to the desired product, and are more likely to go to the store, restaurant or any other institution that offers what is being advertised.
Sometimes, the ability to interact with print (also a type of work you need to do in order to get more information) is what makes the ad effective.
Here are a few very creative ads, which bring the customers satisfaction when they ‘get’ them, and motivate the wish for action.
Whatever your personal preferences are, the power of print advertising cannot be denied.
From newspaper to leaflets, they will always come to your possession one way or another, and when you already have the issue in your hands the chances are you will pay attention.
Carefully examine your needs and requirements, as well as your desired consumer market, and decide on the right marketing approach for your business.
For the maximum effect, try combining print with digital marketing in order to achieve better consumer demographic coverage.
Do not be afraid of the digital development- use it to your advantage.
But also do not be scared of investing in a somewhat more expensive print ad – if you believe in your product or service enough to spend money on investing in it, the consumers will start sharing your belief.
In addition to that, occasionally ‘unplugging’ and slowing down is beneficial for the people who live in tune with the today’s fast pace.
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