When Web-enabled technologies became widely adopted more than a decade ago, some people mocked print marketing as an old economy dinosaur. Today the list of e-marketing options is seemingly endless, with blogs, podcasts, wikis and widgets. So why is print not only surviving but thriving?
Although the marketing mix has changed, the fundamentals of marketing have not. Your customers have the same purchasing motivations, and your purpose is still to meet their needs at a profit. Print remains the tried-and-true, bread-and-butter foundation of marketing. It is a potent tool because printed materials have a long life, are portable and they communicate your story even when you’re not there. That’s why brochures, sales sheets and business cards continue to be must-haves for salespeople.
Digital marketing tools have their own advantages. E-marketing is inexpensive, trendy and a virtually instant means of communicating with your clients. However, many legitimate marketers are reluctant to embrace digital technologies because of the “spam and scam” reputation surrounding email and the Internet. Instant messaging, buzz campaigns and viral marketing are changing the marketing paradigm, but the long-term effectiveness of these techniques is unproven.
The Digital Age has dramatically transformed how we communicate, but it hasn’t diminished the role of print in the overall marketing strategy. Companies that adapt to this ever-changing landscape will continue to flourish, no matter what flavor-of-the-moment technology appears tomorrow.
What is cross-channel marketing?
Successful marketers recognize that print versus digital isn’t an either/or choice. These are complementary tools that you can interweave into a comprehensive strategy appropriate to your target audience, a concept known as cross-channel marketing.
There is no one-size-fits-all cross-channel marketing plan. You must communicate the right message to your customers in the right medium, which means that you should customize your marketing mix to your demographics. Some messages are most effective when delivered by mail, while others might be more appropriate when delivered by email or voice. The under-30 set grew up on interactive technologies, so high-tech touches might work best if you’re selling snowboards or videogames. Seniors might be wary of information posted on a Web site or requests to enter personal information online, so mailing detailed printed materials for review at their leisure is an effective approach for this market niche.
Complex marketing campaigns can overwhelm your customers. With so many marketing channels to choose from, you might consider using all of them at once. Recognize how easily your message can get lost in the daily clutter of information from broadcast media, newspapers, telemarketers, the Internet and the mailbox. Thoughtfully plan your approach to each consumer to make every touch relevant and positively received.
Synchronize your print and electronic marketing strategies. You painstakingly craft your print materials to be visually appealing, persuasive and grammatically correct, but it’s tempting to simply hand your digital initiatives over to the technology department. After all, the tech gurus send your mass emails and make your Web site functional. To ensure that your company is conveying a consistent brand, image and message you must maintain control of all marketing channels, whether print or electronic.