Your prospects are overwhelmed by email. Time to reconsider print?

Print — still making an impression

Remember when technologists decreed that the future was going to be 100% screen based, and that the printing industry might as well pack up and stay home?

For a while, they looked like they’d called it right. Sales of conventional media — books, newspapers, and magazines — fell off a cliff. Businesses sought to communicate through the power of websites, social media and PDFs. Printing professionals scoured job websites looking for a new career direction.

But now… is there still a place for print? The suspicion and the evidence is that there just might be. Certainly, here at Brighter, we’re getting far more briefs for printed material from clients than at any point in the last few years, so it’s worthwhile considering why this is happening.

1. Too much e-noise
Consider how many emails you send and receive. The latest research says that the average business professional gets over 400 emails a week, which equates to around 20,000 every year. That’s a deluge we tend to deal with by hitting delete. In fact, decision makers open less than 25% of the email they receive — and only click through on 3% of those messages. As a communication medium, that’s pretty thin pickings.

2. Hard copies are a novelty
In contrast, many businesses and consumers can go days or even weeks without receiving anything substantial in the post. That’s why marketeers are now re-considering print, as they recognise that it’s become a great opportunity to get their material seen.

It’s worth remembering that one of the reasons email first became the medium of choice for businesses was because it allowed them to stand out in a world dominated by print. With that scenario completely reversed, it’s not surprising that some companies are reviewing their choices in this direction.

3. People prefer print
A UK survey of 420 businesses conducted last year by an independent consultancy highlighted that 63% of responders preferred to receive marketing materials as hard copy. Again, from their point of view, it does make sense. They don’t have to rely on screening their email, and they can choose whether to scan, keep, pass on or dispose of the material quickly and easily.

Clearly, this isn’t a complete “wind the clock back” scenario. Much like the return of vinyl, print will never reach a level of ubiquity it once had. It is, after all, more expensive to commit your message to print and pay for its physical distribution, and it’s hardly a ‘two-way’ conversation. But, as more marketeers recognise the opportunity to achieve cut-through and engagement, print as a communications medium may not be quite as dead as some predicted.