The Transition of Print

21 May 2013 on Design by Anne Hennessy


Worldwide the print industry has been hit very hard. Many businesses are running losses and just as many are closing up shop because business isn’t as lucrative as it once was. Compound this with printing operations in Asia who are undercutting local prices, even with freight factored into the equation.

The Internet and tablet devices have made a tremendous impact on the use of print media. Most households don’t have a stack of yellow pages anymore and newspapers are easily updated and viewed online. People are reading their favourite gossip site rather than buying a magazine. Not to mention e-readers like Kindle for books.

All of these reasons are contributing to an overall decline in print. You could easily use a sweeping statement like “print is dead”, however this does not acknowledge the transition that is occurring within the print industry.

This transition is not one into extinction; rather it is opening up the creative thought process to market differently. Just like venturing out of the house to go to the cinema for an experience, the use of print media is now a more considered enterprise.

A tangible printed piece is something that you can keep. A magazine can stay in a home or office space for years so it has a sense of longevity.

When you compare print advertising to internet advertising there is a great difference. Adverts on the internet can be ignored due to the oversaturation of products and services. Often adverts on the internet such as “pop ups” can be considered a nuisance. There is also hesitancy by people to click on unknown adverts as it may lead to viruses or being directed to a less than desirable site.

In terms of tangibility having a physical Christmas Card that you can touch and put in pride of place is going to have more of an impact than an e-card. Handing over a business card can draw a lot more attention than sending a contact via email. In fact a well thought out piece of print material will get people’s attention, especially if that attention is permission based interaction, rather than random pieces in the mail.

The following case study illustrates the need for adaptability and changing marketing strategies:

 A garden/landscaping business. They wanted to target areas in Sydney’s North West suburbs and appeal to families for garden maintenance or landscaping design for new homes.

 At first the company set up a website. They ensured that they had the correct key words for the google bots to pick them up in keyword searches. They also decided to place some adverts on website gardening forums. They found that there wasn’t much interest coming forward. In fact most business came from people seeing their van driving through the streets and then going on to the website or just calling directly. 

The business then decided that they needed to change their approach to get more attention. They decided to target the local shopping and hardware centres in the targeted areas. They created an installation piece. A visual display of their work with beautiful potted plants. The entire site was branded from the pots to the stakes in the pots and the signage. They included a zen garden area which ended up attracting many children to the display. The display included a take home brochure which included an introductory offer for first time clients. The brochure included a QR code so smart phone users could scan it and go straight to their home page.

 The business in the month following received a 67% increase in business from this one venture alone. The elderly was an unexpected demographic captured due to the fact that most were not exposed to the internet and this was a way to reach them.

This case study really highlights the transitional phase for print at the moment. The print pieces included the signage, pot labels & stakes, plus the take home brochure.  The most important part of this case study to note is that everything worked in synergy. Just using the web alone wasn't the single answer to the problem. A well thought out marketing strategy, combining web, print and installation was the most effective.

So when you think of your next marketing strategy, be sure to consider the right balance of various media to create the greatest impact both in brand presence and sales.


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