THE CURRENT economic situation has not been kind to our industry. On a national basis, printing shipments continue to slide, with May commercial printing shipments down $761 million as compared to May of 2008—a decline of 9.4 percent.
While this is clearly exacerbated by the economic situation, it is a process that has been underway for some time and should be no surprise to our readers.
More important than the economic situation, which will correct itself eventually, is the transition many marketers are making to using alternative media in lieu of print. That is a trend not likely to reverse itself. Yet, as printing professionals, we know that print still has a significant role to play in the marketing mix. We just haven’t done a very good job of getting that message out.
One of the easiest ways to link print into an integrated marketing campaign is using personalized URLs (PURLs). These are Web addresses personalized to the recipient that can be printed on direct mail pieces (or included in e-mails) which direct the recipient to a personalized Web microsite for more information or to take advantage of an offer. This links print into the media mix in a very real way and allows marketers to track results in real time.
When a respondent visits a microsite, other actions can be triggered that might also involve print, building customer relationships while giving marketers an increasing amount of information about recipients. It helps marketers better target future communications, keeping the dialog going in a meaningful fashion.
This stuff really works, and it is not hard to do. I challenge you to try your own PURL-based direct marketing campaign for your business. In this way you will show customers and prospects, by example, that you understand how to link print with other media, and that you believe in the methodology enough to use it for your own business. The technology has been around for a while, but it is just recently that we have started to see more public disclosure about the type of results being achieved.