Is Print Dead?

By Stacy Cornay for the Times-Call & Boulder Daily Camera
Publish Date: 09/10/2017

Print is dead - why can't people get this?

This thought was shared recently at a gathering of local business people. It wasn't the first time. Because the person in question was so confident in her assertion, most people just nodded. I asked why. Suddenly I felt like the dinosaur in the room.

"Why? Because no one uses it! If you haven't completely moved to digital marketing," she claimed, "then you are totally missing the boat."

Really? I wonder who is actually missing the boat. This notion isn't new. With the advent of digital marketing and social media, many people believe that the future is all digital and that attempts to market in more traditional ways won't work.

Let's take a look at that.

Marketing, by definition, is a means of selling products and services. To do this one must reach out to others. Marketing is about reach - how many people can you reach that may be interested in what you are selling?

It's more than just reach, however. It's reaching the right targets within a given budget. Reaching a million people won't matter if they aren't the right million people.

According to the American Marketing Association, print is still a top-of-funnel medium. What continues to make print ads valuable is the nearly undivided attention that readers give to magazine and newspaper content, rather than multitasking like they do when consuming digital content. While print readership is down, those remaining are loyal and have selected the publications that they are interested in. Ads have a much longer life in this medium than digital. Print advertising is a very efficient way of establishing a brand identity and for communicating that to the identified target market. Specialty niche publications, trade journals, newsletters and daily newspapers each provide unique ways to reach specific audiences.

One of the most effective means of marketing continues to be direct mail. Forty-two percent of recipients read or scan direct mail pieces. You may achieve a 1, 2 or even 10% response rate. Postcards, in particular, do very well year after year. Digital ads are lucky if they get 0.14 percent click through rate (Target Marketing). .

Social media is very popular, but don't be misled about actual users. According to the Pew Research Center, 68% of all U.S. adults use Facebook. In comparison, 28% of U.S. adults use Instagram, 26% of all U.S. adults use Pinterest, 25% of all U.S. adults use LinkedIn and 21% of all U.S. adults use Twitter. All platforms, with the exception of LinkedIn are most used by adults aged 18 - 29. Those with incomes over $75,000 prefer LinkedIn while women overwhelmingly prefer Pinterest. In spite of its notoriety in the news, Twitter users continue to be very low.

What does this all mean? Print isn't dead.

Those engaged in marketing need to develop plans that include a mixture of tools to achieve their goals within their budgets. Clearly defining your audience will enable you to choose the right mix of mediums. Things to consider include age, income, gender, interests, geographic location, etc.

I'm reminded of my mother who used to say, "If everyone wanted to jump off of a bridge would you do it?" This was usually when I wanted to do something she felt was ridiculous. However, I find myself thinking this when I hear business people assert that the only way to go is digital. Digital is great, especially utilized in concert with other tools. But instead of jumping off the bridge with everyone else, consider charting your own course.


Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
She may be reached at 303-651-6612; scornay@comm-concepts.com; www.comm-concepts.com; Facebook.com/Communication Concepts; Twitter @CommConceptsPR; or Linked In.