Print or Digital?

deep thoughts on creative marketingOur clients raise this question all of the time: “Should I bother with print in today’s digital age?”

Some citing that business cards and printed brochures seem so out-of-date. On the other hand, we have clients turning around strategies to bring things back to print in the advent of social media, geofencing, and mobile apps. What things should your business consider when deciding to solve the question of print or digital?

There are many examples of successful companies run solely on social media; producing the next best video and promoting it on Vine, running analytics to ensure optimal SEO, maintaining up-to-date Twitter feeds, and using the pay-for-promo tricks of LinkedIn and Facebook. Sure, these things are necessary, but measurement can rarely keep up and we’re constantly on to the next thing.

We were recently at a green marketing mixer—chock full of San Francisco’s best sustainability consulting firms, corporate social responsibility (CSR) gurus, and marketers who can make you think your morning Columbian coffee served up in a porcelain mug from China has a nearly-noticeable carbon footprint. While we were networking, we noticed two distinct types: those who had nicely designed printed business cards and who took the time to get to know you before exchanging info, and others who were merely buzzing through learning your name before they asked to add you on LinkedIn because of their lack of a printed business card. Networkers at the event started talking about those who were there to add to their social networks—and not talking about them in the best light.

The lesson speaks loud and clear: of course we need to keep up with the digital age, but we cannot lose the human element and touch of the way we do business. While it’s smart, efficient, and 100% critical to the success of your business to leverage the latest in tech, we always ensure our clients approach their strategies with a healthy balance of print and digital.

Think about the last time you received a personalized promotion from one of your favorite brands in the mail—the kind that comes in your mailbox at the end of the driveway. How did it make you feel? Our guess is that it stood out to you and you either made a deeper connection with the brand, or it influenced a decision (purchasing, taking action, etc.) you made. We’d also guess you connected and decided quickly. Now, think about the last time you received a promotion from one of your favorite brands in the social sphere: a LinkedIn or Facebook add, 140 character tweet promotion, or email coupon or ad. You could probably point to 10 examples over the past week, and perhaps cannot articulate the way it made you feel (though we guess you might feel overwhelmed). You might even archive the emails and make a decision at some (or much) later point. We’re not saying digital marketing is bad, but what we are saying is the frequency needs to be controlled and personalization needs to be there.

The bottom line is, the question isn’t “print or digital,” but rather, “what appropriate mix of print AND digital is best for my business?” We love to help our clients answer this question because it is one of the most critical answers to a successful business in today’s social and real worlds.

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