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Is this the “renaissance of print”? [Part 2]

By Catherine Jenkins

In the first of this three part blog series (which you can find here), based on my presentation at an event hosted by Oracle in Reading, I talked about the power of print in a digital age. It’s time to take that further and delve into how branding and digital marketing fits into all of this…

It’s all about the brand…

Brand is core to any effective marketing communication. In MAXX we often refer to an organisation like a stick of rock – wherever you cut the rock, whether at design, print, video etc, you will find the true brand of the organisation running right through. Arieso was a client of ours where we would like to think the branding we created was spot on, it was born as a start up business dealing in Geo-location technology, we worked with the business over several years on marketing communications and ultimately, helped the business rebrand and refocus as it set its goals ever higher. The business was sold to a US company for £68 million – quite a success story. Now called Viavi, Arieso got this right but we can all think of examples where the branding was off mark, Dermot recently told me about a French sports shop called “Althletes Foot” and we all know what the Vauxhall brand Nova translates as…. (but that’s a whole different blog!)

There’s no such thing as digital marketing…

So I have been talking about good branding – good design. Am I saying then that this matters more than digital marketing? Tempting maybe but no, what I’m actually saying is there is no such thing as digital marketing! Why? Because the reality is that if you’re not “doing digital” somewhere in your marketing – you’re not really marketing. Our Digital Communications Manager, Conor,  wrote an article about this very thing recently and I know he has said that he thinks his job title is largely meaningless because everything is about digital communications.

Lets explore that a little more… when we analyse a dashboard of data collected from a website it tells us about the verticals we should target, the regions our visitors are coming from, what topics they are interested in and the channels or platforms they use to engage – this data informs ALL of our marketing activity. You can find out more about our digital dashboard service here. Interestingly we know that even highly tech-savvy companies use e-commerce data to produce personalised printed publications. They are highly targeted and based on purchase history and demographics. Why do they do this? Because it increases conversions – good content is good content, whether it is in digital or printed communications.

The “renaissance of print”…

One of our print partners, Hunts’ CEO, Timon Colegrove has coined the phrase “the renaissance of print” – it echoes the resurgence of vinyl records, boutique grocers and the growth of cinemas in an age of digital streaming; a need for something tangible and genuine – making something that may have possibly once been “old hat” cool again.

There is plenty more evidence to support the fact that this “renaissance” is more than just a blip (and I have to thank Timon and his excellent book “to print or not to print?” for these interesting statistics):

 - The Times newspaper has experienced growth every month for over the past 12 months
 - The sales of printed books is faster than e-books
 - Net a Porter says “to send people online – send them a magazine!”

This last point is echoed by Waitrose who sees print as the most effective ROI channel. Even 83% of “digital natives” (18-24 year olds) when surveyed by Ipsos Mori say they prefer reading paper.

Other truly tech-savvy companies such as AirBnB and the programmatic advertising company Chango produces printed publications to communicate with their audiences – why? Because they know that print engages the user for an average of 20 minutes whereas the web is significantly less – maybe 5 minutes!

So is this print? Or a printed extension of digital marketing? Even Apple’s latest offering is a piece of print – a history of the past 20 years presented in a sleek, white hard-backed book.

Ultimately, this is all about customer-centric marketing; making the use of all marketing channels to enhance the customer experience. Within all this, digital has become an amorphous term – there is no such thing as digital marketing – just marketing!

Make an emotive connection…

Technology improves daily – we are presented with more and more ways to communicate with our customers.  Each customer is different and will require different channels, different blends – not everyone likes a gin and tonic!

Our challenge as business leaders is to harness emerging technologies to find and reach our audiences but – my personal take on this is this (and some may say that I’m reverting to type!) is that we must never forget the old saying “People Buy People” – it is so important to remember that – now in this digital age perhaps more than ever.

We must collect and crunch the data, harness all types of emerging technologies, reach our audiences in increasingly sophisticated ways, but we must never forget that it is how you make people feel that will differentiate you. Make an emotive connection with your audience and chances are you will get your message across and you will win the business.

Next week for my final blog in this series I discuss a case study that takes all of the thoughts I have shared with you into account. If you want to get in touch before that then please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling 01635 521224 or emailing me on [email protected]. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn

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