An Old Friend in the New Media Marketplace

Most business owners and marketing professionals agree: content marketing is one of the keys to success in today’s economy. However, while the bulk of the world is on the digital bandwagon—producing online content that leverages pull marketing that drives online viewers to their products—there’s another way of delivering branded content that will help you stand out from the pack. 

And it’s in print. Yes, you read that right. I’m talking about “new school” content marketing delivered in a decidedly “old school” medium: printed magazines.

How do you deliver content to the audience you’re targeting? If you currently use blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, e-mail, and the like, you’re definitely on the right track. Nearly every marketing consultant on Earth will agree that if you’re not doing a combination of social media, content marketing, and SEO, your business may end up lost in the sea of competition.

What many marketing consultants forget, however, is that we live in a tactile world. Consumers subconsciously desire both visual and tactile feedback when they turn through pages and pages of content. We like to hold and manipulate things. We prefer the look and feel of printed paper to a backlit screen. That’s why the best digital providers mimic the printed page as often as possible. (Don’t believe me? Take a look at iBooks, Flipboard, and other digital content delivery apps that read and “flip” like printed material.)

All of this means that print will never die as a viable means of delivering effective content marketing.

Consider the following:

  • “Print is becoming the fresh marketing tool as we get more and more inundated with tweets, e-mails, and blogs.”1

  • “Individuals have a better ability to recall after viewing materials in print rather than on screen. Brand-name recall was substantially lower for screen respondents.”2

  • “I don’t believe print will ever go away. It is tangible, you hold it, your eyes roam around the page, you place it somewhere as a reminder and view over and over again. I find I respond to an RSVP with print more than I do online.”3

  • Consumers go online more in response to magazines than to any other medium. Direct mail, blogs, social media, Internet advertising—none of those holds a candle to magazines at effectively prompting people to do online searches.4

  • “It is special receiving a well-designed printed piece in the mail or on my desk; it cuts through the online noise like nothing else. I expect to see more of that in the future.”5

  • “Magazines and social media go hand-in-hand. Sixty-nine percent of readers have posted a magazine article on Facebook, and more than six in ten have shared magazine content while chatting with friends on Facebook.”6

In this data, I see opportunity—a chance to stand out and get noticed. Add value and show your clients that you’re committed to becoming a true partner instead of a chance connection initiated by an online pull marketing campaign. 

As I pointed out in my post on using a multifaceted marketing plan to stay top-of-mind, print media isn’t the end-all tool: it’s a differentiator. Digital marketing is alive and well and is clearly here to stay. Although there are a few dinosaurs who still aren’t on board with digital marketing, nearly everyone else is. Even if you hire the best consultants in the industry, it’s tough to create SEO-optimized content, Twitter communities, Facebook pages, and other digital content that will truly separate you from the ten other companies doing the same thing with the same value proposition right in your own backyard. So how do you stand out from the crowd?

Print is the answer. The marketing principles we currently use online can easily be incorporated into the print world. New technology allows us to leverage variable-data messaging in a printed publication such as a magazine, which enables you to grab—and maintain—the attention of your audience and build a loyal following.

Imagine having the ability to vary the messaging throughout a magazine according to your audience. You could have versions of introductory letters that target different readers, for example (after all, your clients and your prospects are audiences with different needs and interests). One issue’s cover art could vary based on the recipient’s organizational role or demographic. Or content can be tailored based on geography (clients in California might see healthcare reform updates different from those seen by clients in Massachusetts, for instance).

As you can see, the possibilities for customizing a print product are endless. Why not seize the opportunity to make your organization stand out from the crowd? Ask me how you can cast your net wider than theirs by adding branded publishing to your toolkit—and start reaping the rewards that come from taking an “old school” approach to “new school” messaging.


1 Quoted in: Kaye, Gordon. 2012. Print Is Getting Smarter: And 11 Other Things Learned from Our Annual Survey. Graphic Design USA (June): 37–62.

2 Jones, Marily Y., Robin Pentecost, and Gabrielle Requena. 2005. Memory for advertising and information content: Comparing the printed page to the computer screen. Psychology & Marketing 22 (8): 623–648.

3Kaye, 2012.

4 See a breakdown of the numbers here: The Association of Magazine Media. 2012. The Magazine and Media Factbook 2012/2013.

5Kaye, 2012.

6 The Association of Magazine Media, 2012.


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