Since the internet first became approved for commercial use (mid 1990's), people have repeatedly predicted the demise of commercial printing. Incorrectly, I might add. Here we are, 2013 and I still get at least 2 pieces of direct mail every day and I still prefer an actual magazine in my hands to reading one on my iPad.
Let me preface my comments with this. I am what most people would call an "early adopter" when it comes to technology. When new technology comes out, I want it. I've had an iPhone since the first one hit the shelves and I purchased the first version of the iPad as well. I do not fear technology, I embrace it and use it more than most in my daily life. In fact, I read a significant number of articles and news stories online. One would think that I would be quite comfortable having all information served up electronically. But that simply isn't the case. While reading things I want to read online is perfectly acceptable to me, I don't want to get any more email than I already do. Nor do I want companies to text me information about their product which is approximately 100x more annoying than spam email!
So, let's get on with the list...
1) The effectiveness of email marketing is minimized by the overwhelming amount of absolute crap that gets sent to me on a daily basis. MacAfee reported 1.9 TRILLION..... "TRILLION"... like national debt "TRILLION" global spam messages in March of 2013. Yes, just in March! In April 2013, over 72% of all emails sent were spam.
2) Direct mail still works - Sure, the post office hasn't had a lot of good press lately, but direct mail done right is still a great option for businesses. Direct mail can be targeted very specifically to your target demographic and unlike email marketing, you have a decent chance to catch the consumers eye. 78% of households either read or scan advertising mail sent to their home. If you have a broad audience the post office has programs like every door direct mail (EDDM) that can significantly lower the per piece cost of direct mail.
3) The Business Card. Don't underestimate the power of a quality business card. I cannot count the number of people that have said they love our business cards or our logo as we start a meeting. Many people have tried to replace business cards with various technologies and failed. The exchange of business cards is a staple of almost any type of sales interaction and that isn't changing anytime soon. In fact, if a vendor came to me and didn't have a business card, or maybe even worse, had a poor quality business card, I would immediately have a questionable opinion of their company.
4) Readability - Some things just don't present well digitally. When someone hands me a pocket folder with 10 product data sheets in it, I would much prefer this format to receiving 10 PDF's via email to download and save somewhere it may or may not ever be found again. Pulling a sheet out of a folder is much simpler than finding, opening, and then reading a PDF. If you want people to actually read your information, put it in their hands, not in their email box.
5) Printed materials allow for greater creativity - Commercially printed marketing materials can be die cut, embossed, riveted, bound, folded, etc. There are hundreds of paper options allowing you to give your marketing a personality. On the other hand, it's pretty tough to dress up a PDF.
6) Digital marketing is still evolving - Literally every day there is a new way to market yourself online. While I believe social media can be quite valuable when done correctly. Most companies don't have the resources or knowledge to manage it effectively. There is text msg marketing, email marketing, PPC, pop up ads, etc., but each has it's limitations and none do a good job of replacing printed marketing materials completely.
7) Technology isn't cheap - While tablets and smart phones are becoming increasingly popular, they still aren't free. Will you only market to potential customers who can afford or choose to purchase expensive devices?
8) Quality printed pieces make you stand out - Let me give you an example. I receive extremely nice, personalized marketing materials from the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and I appreciate the effort they put into it. There is absolutely no email they could ever send me that would be able to adequately represent their premium brand or make me feel like an important customer the way these high quality printed materials do.
Because of these reasons and more, not only do I reject the statement that printing is dead, but believe marketers will come back to producing pieces that "WOW" their customers. I believe the best way to market your business is with an integrated approach that uses multiple channels to reach a broad range of potential customers. But, if you want to impress your potential customers and leave a lasting impression, invest in high quality, well designed printed materials.