Steve Pearce, Director
I want to look at the value of the medium of print. Like many people I’m sensory-seeking. Whether it’s a smell, a specific sound, or the physical feel of an item in my hand with my senses engaged I focus more on what I’m doing and have a far better recollection of events with such stimuli.
As a child I would spend hours playing with a friend on our street, at the bottom of which was an open-fronted garage owned by a farmer neighbour. Every Summer a distinct, almost intoxicating smell would waft from the garage clear across the road. The entire back third of it was piled high with recently shorn sheep fleeces, some four feet high and about the same deep.
From across the road we would run and launch ourselves at great speed onto the fleeces. The oily lanolin in the fleeces gave off a pungent, cloying tang that would linger in your nostrils for hours – and on your clothes for days.
This memory remains vivid because it touched multiple senses… and this is something which your marketing must do too. We’re regularly asked by membership clients: “Does print still work?” and “Should we switch to digital?”
The reality is an effective print mailing, magazine or newsletter stays in the mind of readers longer than any email, lurking on a desk, or in the reception area, often retained for further future reading.
It’s helpful not to think about print and digital as separate mediums. They work best together. It’s more about where and when people want to consume your content that will dictate the format. Different customers will have different media habits, and different channel preferences.
It’s always more effective to let people choose…
If you communicate with a more ‘traditional’ audience (i.e. most anyone aged over 40), relying on digital may save you on print and fulfilment costs, but you run the risk of dramatically reducing your impact. Regardless of age, if you’re sending valuable information, people like to hold it in their hands, they like something tangible. In the words of our client Nicole, CEO at The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association:
“We do a members’ survey every year and we kept asking ‘Wouldn’t you like just an email?’ For quite some time we were pushing very hard to see if we could move to email only. It became clear that wasn’t what people wanted. We knew they wanted us to keep with a print version, and so we did. We asked Rubicon to review our existing mailing and have found the whole experience extremely positive, they do things that really make a difference. We’re very pleased with the newsletter and have had extremely positive feedback from our members, which they have to take a lot of credit for.”
A multi-channel approach is ultimately more effective, because one medium reinforces another and increases the chance of meeting your goals. Appearing in email, print and online makes you appear everywhere to your members. This isn’t though something to get self-conscious about. Nobody pays as much attention to your marketing as you do – not even your greatest advocates. If members want to engage with your message, don’t dictate how they must do that.
If a client asked us to do a magazine on its own, we’d question that proposition, because the major cost and value comes in creating the content. Spending a significant sum of money on writing, editing and photography, just to live on a print platform and no digital channels isn’t the right way to go. We almost always recommend a multichannel approach to all our clients. We want as wide a distribution as we can, on whichever channels are relevant to the audience. Deliver the right message, in the right place, at the right time.
Digital allows speed. Print allows more depth and lasting impact. In 2019, you’ll need both.
Your first responsibility is to your audience. How exactly do they want to hear from you? How can you serve them more effectively? Can you use print to stay front of mind? As your competitors switch to email only, is there an opportunity here?
To discuss how print may fit into your plans for 2019 and beyond, call us on 0117 957 5400. It’s better to know, rather than assume.
In case you’re wondering about the fleeces, I grew up in Somerset; this was normal behaviour!
Rubicon Marketing is a full service agency specialising in providing membership organisations and trade associations with intelligent design & marketing solutions for both online and offline channels.