Print in 2015: Alive and Kicking!

Once digital marketing and media became mainstream communication vectors and proved their worth as cost-effective and easily-tracked ways to promote products and services, print did in fact experience a decline in popularity. But now, in 2015, we’re hearing a lot about the return of print. I wouldn’t call it a “comeback,” though, because in spite of what some pundits were saying, print never really went away. It’s been there all along—and what’s changed is that people are now realizing its full potential.

Right now, both retail B2C marketing and corporate B2B marketing are increasingly turning to print to reach their target audiences. Take a look at these examples of print magazine launches within just the past few months:

  • The payroll company ADP launched its own hard-copy magazine that sales teams can distribute to their clients and prospects. Full of custom content, it’s designed to keep CFOs, payroll managers, and HR leaders abreast of industry changes that affect their business.

  • Airbnb, a company that specializes in online accommodation bookings, launched Pineapple, a hard-copy magazine intended to help the company build stronger offline connections with its customers.

  • A leading technology company known almost exclusively for its online presence, CNET launched a hard-copy consumer-facing magazine that’s available both at traditional newsstands as well as at major department stores.

It’s not just magazines that are being printed in greater numbers. For example, J.C. Penney is set to bring back its famous print catalogue (which had been moved completely online five years ago). And at least one YouTube channel has created its own line of print books.

Why all this interest in print? Explanations abound, but most of them have one thing in common: haptics.

Haptic communication is communication through touch. Print has it … and digital media don’t. Clicking on a mouse or holding a mobile reader in your hands offers a completely different haptic experience than flipping through the pages of a book or magazine.

Forbes recognized the power of haptics a couple of years ago in an article titled “Print is dead? Not so fast,” which pointed to “tangibility” as one advantage that print has over digital media. Writing in Slate, Jack Schafer explains that, although he gets plenty of his information online, he found that he “started missing the blue Times bag on my lawn and the glossy goodness of the Sunday magazine” when he ended his subscription to the print New York Times. He adds, “While it’s a joy to carry 25 editions of The New Yorker and whole libraries of books on an iPad, for real reading satisfaction I still reach for the print editions.”

When they physically handle print media, people engage with it in ways that are impossible with digital media. Touching and turning pages helps readers absorb and retain messaging more effectively. And as I’ve discussed before, print has staying power: people tend to keep print media around a lot longer than digital media (which can be discarded with one keystroke).

If your organization isn’t already using print media as part of its messaging, now may be a good time to rethink your marketing strategy. More and more business powerhouses are recognizing the ability of print to connect with clients and prospects, and print publications—especially custom and branded magazines—are making a big impact in the marketplace. Don’t miss the opportunity to put print to work for your company, too!


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