Seven Principles of Print Marketing

The last decade has seen the marketing industry be completely seduced by internet marketing. All the forms of social, video, drop page, free reports, instafamous and so on have had their brilliant explosion onto the marketing scene, and while they have disprupted the market, all they have really done is squeeze their way onto the table along with the incumbent forms of marketing, those being print, radio and and television. They have undoubtable taken market share from the traditional forms, but they have not replaced them at all, and at this stage I think it unlikely they will ever replace print in any event. Print has been around for thousands of years at this point and has outlasted every challenger to date, and it will outlast the current crop of challengers. Print will still be in the marketplace long after Facebook as gone the way of MySpace or Nokia. Print is just a damn good medium for communicaion and that is never going to change.

But despite this, marketers have lost touch with the art of print marketing. Pick up any marketing magazine and you will be treated to pages and pages and pages of how to’s, and hacks, and case studies for every kind of e marketing there is, but likely nothing at all about print. Even though, every marketer ever, buys print and uses it for their marketing. And if they don;’t it;’s only because they don’t know how, and know one is telling them.

So if you’re in the business of marketing and would like to know something about how to use print marketing for something other than the obligatory joke “it gives me something to put my monitor on” read on.

The purpose of every piece of marketing is to move a customer from point A to point B. Marketing campaigns should be constructed like the signs on a highway, telling customers where to go next, with each piece of collateral having a clearly defined and unique purpose. Mindfully define the next reasonable step your customer will take. Imagine you are putting signs on a highway, if there is a turn coming up, make sure there is a sign pointing towards it. Repurposing a single piece of art across all advertising mediums is a mistake. Each piece of collateral has its own unique purpose. That purpose must be defined, then the graphic design and supporting assets should be built around that purpose.

Every business has multiple physical and digital communication channels. Print is a powerful referral medium, QR codes and web addresses are highly effective at moving customers into your digital environment. Leverage these tools to integrate your digital content and direct customers into digital funnels, or integrate the digital content to appear on their phone with the graphic design on the printed page. Effective integration can create truly remarkable pieces of print.

We live in a world full of expectations, acknowledge how these expectations control the physical manifestation of your marketing collateral and how you might subvert them for effect. This is about specifications of the physical materials you use, the size, the shape, the packaging. Imagine handing out a stainless steel business card, or a mail out using a3 cartons. Depending on the industry, some expectations will need to be conformed to, while others can be subverted. Subversion of expectations increases engagement and effectiveness.

Of the five senses, digital displays can only affect two, sight and sound. Print can affect four. Smell has powerful links into our memory . We might see something and it tickles a memory that we might slowly tease out, but when we smell something significant, the memory floods back. Touch can be harnessed to make give print a tactile sensation that is fascinating to the fingers. Integration to digital assets can link in sounds. These sensations and our human responses to them can be harnessed to create highly effective print.

Every time we are presented with an item, we assign it a value based on the physical material. A monochrome certificate printed on copy paper would be perceived as less valuable than a colour print on a thick textured paper with embossing and gold foil, even if it represents the same achievement. It has no intrinsic value, you can’t sell it, you still get the letters after your name, you still have the knowledge, but one of those certificates would be framed, one would not. Value can also be created in the function, and give your customer a reason to keep it, for example the Ikea measuring tape. Create value in your print through quality materials or usefulness, and you extend the life of the print, and increase the chance for it to be effective.

Finally I get to graphic design. You will not create a remarkable piece of print if you start with the graphic design, the previous points will guide your graphic design choices. Clarity of message is key piece here. Every design element needs to focus on achieving the specific purpose of the piece of collateral. Remember the road sign analogy, keep the design clear and simple, only include what you absolutely must. Repurposing a single artwork across multiple mediums is a mistake. Again the road sign analogy, each design must be tailored to the serve it’s specific purpose within the campaign. Clarity of message to increase the chance the customer will take that next step.

This is where the rubber meets the road, and the print campaign is executed. Is the artwork consistent across the mediums and all locations? Will I see the amazing poster outside, then walk in the store, and wonder if I am in the right shop? Are the materials used appropriate? Have you investigated multiple suppliers, and multiple solutions to come up with the best case for the campaign? Is your print collateral standing proud, or is it blowing off the wall and tumbling down the beach? The biggest mistake made here is time, or lack of it. Nothing increases cost, and decreases options and quality more than the lack of time.  Treat print with respect and give it the time it needs to fully develop if you want to create something truly remarkable.

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