Over the past few months, I’ve heard many people from colleagues and clients to designers and publishers all comment that ‘maybe’ print is becoming a favourable tool for marketing messages, content campaigns, advertising and editorial. And with just a little research (I really didn’t have to look very far to confirm these whispers), it would seem they’re right; print really is becoming a ‘thing’ again.
For many of our clients, print media still plays an important role in getting their message across to key audiences, especially those needing to communicate with traditional trades or targeting regional and local businesses. In fact, Target was recently awarded a CIPR award for the creation of a printed publication for our client QuoLux. Leading is a creative, insightful and beautiful looking magazine that captures the essence of QuoLux’s leadership programmes and engages with both alumni and those unfamiliar with LEAD, GOLD and GAIN.
The rationale behind choosing a print publication as a mechanism that would capture the imagination of senior directors of growing businesses (£1-150m turnover), was that the audience can be difficult to engage due to time restraints, ‘gate-keepers’ or not recognising the need for their own development. Understanding this audience meant we knew it would grab their attention and it certainly has. After just three issues, Leading had helped to increase sales by 12%; 59% from new clients and 41% from existing clients.
Indeed, when used in this way, print can be better than trying to cut through the email ‘noise’ because it’s easier to get someone’s attention when it physically lands on their desk. Yet it still needs to offer a compelling reason for the reader to give it their time.
In magazine terms, it would appear that many are getting this right and independent publications are being heralded as a modern publishing phenomenon. Set against the backdrop of mainstream mags going ‘digital first’ and cutting back on their print circulations, the Guardian noted that this new breed of print titles is growing fast with numbers more than tripling in five years. It’s thought that the indie mag scene gained traction as a rebellious trend against the fast pace of the digital age. I definitely subscribe to this, much preferring to spend time properly reading Lionheart magazine than flicking through Instagram.
Another reason for the return to print is thought to be driven by a trust, or rather a lack of trust in supreme digital entities such as Facebook, due to privacy storms they’ve had to weather recently. That said, ironically, Facebook also publishes a magazine; Grow is a new quarterly magazine for business leaders.
We always talk about how much the media landscape has changed but it would seem there’s far more change to come, and not necessarily in the way we expected, or as quickly. For example, Kantar’s Dimension report recently noted that traditional media still rules as worldwide nearly everyone continues to watch television through a TV set; radio listening offline is at 88%; and around 80% continue to look at print versions of newspapers and magazines. In July, the Guardian reported that print advertising in UK national newspapers had risen for the first time since 2010, and the owner of MediaCom highlighted ‘a renewed optimism and verve sweeping through the publishing market for the first time in many years.’
Print is definitely not dead, in many ways it’s actually more alive than it’s been for a long time, so it’s critical for us and our clients that we consider it as a powerful tool in the marketing mix.