Print Is(n't) Dead

derekrsmith74
Derek Smith Senior Copywriter, Element Three

Posted on April 29th 2014

Print Is(n't) Dead

I know what you’re thinking: Print is most certainly dead. Everyone gets their news online nowadays and a variety of factors have caused print to become largely irrelevant.

Well, not so fast. I’ve been closer to the print world than many, having worked at a couple of Central Indiana newspapers, and it’s too soon to toll that bell just yet. In fact, print might be a great marketing opportunity for you if it’s a good fit for your audience.

Cut against the grain

Ok, so first the bad news. Everyone knows the newspaper industry has been pummeled in recent years with declining circulation and ad revenues. Print advertising last summer was just 41% of what it was back in 2006, according to the Pew Research Journalism Project.

Historically, newspapers enjoyed higher profit margins than many other industries. But sadly that's no longer the case. While some older readers continue to value their papers, much of the younger generation would just as soon get their news elsewhere. Go to a local coffee shop and you might find more people fiddling with their phones than flipping through the paper.

Many papers have ceased publication in recent years, or dramatically cut back their staff or the frequency of their printing. Magazines have faced similar struggles, and there’s been a widespread trend of companies in areas like social media, marketing and venture capital hiring former print journalists.

But here’s the good news. Last time I checked, the local newspapers here in Indianapolis and many other American cities are still printing. Sure, they've done some belt tightening, but they’ve survived.

Stackofmagazines

Similarly, magazines haven’t completely vanished from the face of the earth. I still read Fortune and I imagine the Mensa crowd still reads the print version of The Economist. And your competitors probably aren’t advertising there.

Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, shared in a guest post last month that some 7 in 10 B2B marketers do not use print distribution in their content marketing. His take was that this vacancy could be a great opportunity for you to test print as a channel for reaching your audience. I agree. If your competitors are all crowding elsewhere, why not try out print? You might even find that the price is right due to a lesser demand for ad space.

There's also the trust factor. Newspaper ads are still the most trusted form of paid media in North America, followed closely by magazine ads, according to a recent Nielsen survey reported by Mashable.

If it’s right for your audience and brand

Of course, you'll want to consider if print is a good fit for your audience. And you should have a good handle on that because you’ve done your audience research. You’ve interviewed your customers and asked plenty of open-ended questions like: Where do you get your news information and your information about this industry? (Also, you may have gotten additional psychographic insights from a marketing intelligence platform like Hitwise.)

You'll also want to consider whether print is right for your brand. Have you advertised in print before? If so, how long ago and what were the results? How does it jive with the marketing channels you're currently using?

Once you've taken all these things into consideration, you just might find that print is a nice complement to what you’re doing on other marketing channels. If so, your secret's safe with me.

derekrsmith74

Derek Smith

Senior Copywriter, Element Three

Derek Smith serves as a Senior Copywriter at Element Three, a brand-based, digitally savvy marketing agency. He became a marketer after nine years as a newspaper reporter.

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