The State of Print Collateral: Where Are We Headed in 2020 and Beyond?
The year 2020 is here! So have you seen any flying houses or robot maids lately?
As humorous as predictions like those are today, I can’t help but think of a more serious one made 20 or so years ago: The internet and the rise of the digital age would drastically reduce—dare I say kill?—the need for printed products like marketing collateral.
As it turns out, digital’s impact has been a lot more complicated. As you read this — yes, on a digital screen — you’re also in the midst of interesting times. The best marketers today aren’t looking to cut print. They’re striving to use it more strategically in a digital age.
Rather than preach to the printing choir here, I want to simply remind you of a few crucial points about our industry—more specifically, where we’re headed with print collateral and why we should be holding our heads up high.
Digital oversaturation is real and relevant to us
The nonprofit sector has experienced double-digit drops in email response rates according to the 2019 M+R Benchmarks Study. That’s just one small example of a growing phenomena: people are getting inundated with digital messaging.
Meanwhile, print is being seen as a way to differentiate. Consider this prediction for the coming year from the Content Marketing Institute’s founder, Joe Pulizzi: “Multiple Fortune 500 companies will launch coffee-table type print magazines, citing a need to break through the online clutter with a new, innovative print/paper technology.”
And Jessica Eng, VP of marketing for Alliance Franchise Brands says, “We are seeing the pendulum swing back to print and direct mail as integral parts of a multichannel campaign versus an all-digital strategy.”
Direct mail is becoming more and more dialed in
Let me piggy-back on the direct mail point made just above. The ever-improving direct mail technology we can offer our customers is making it easier and more affordable to create highly customized and personalized mailers.
Age, home value, geography, donation or purchasing history—the list of potential direct mail variables can be mind-boggling. And also exciting for our customers.
As direct mail becomes more and more targeted, so too will its effectiveness. That’s especially encouraging when you consider that direct mail response rates can already be up to nine times higher than email.
Touching is believing: the power of collateral in hand
Any business with staff in the field better have material to leave behind. That’s not going to change anytime soon. After the pitch, presentation, or even the quick meet-and-greet, prospects need to have more.
Enter print collateral, a physical reminder that helps our customers drive home who they are and why they’re the right choice—well after they’ve left the building.
Then there’s the fundamental importance of touch itself (which I’ve written about before). Research has shown that the very act of handling a piece of print collateral can initiate feelings of psychological ownership and begin to create an emotional connection to the organization, service, or product that collateral represents.
And here’s what really cool about that point: Print technology is helping to elevate the tactile component of collateral with more affordable embellishments such as foil stamping and textured spot UV printing.
Digital printing will drive more targeted, effective collateral
Digital printing technology will continue to become an even more cost-effective option for smaller runs of highly targeted collateral. This gives companies and nonprofits more opportunity to get creative—and strategic—as they diversify their print collateral materials.
For example, at my company we’re doing more short runs of uniquely-sized collateral like oversized and landscape-folded brochures. These can stand out in a heap of humdrum collateral, while they also allow more room for content.
Keep the focus on our customers while keeping out of the print bubble
I could go on and on about the promising future of print, but I’ll stop for now with one final caveat: No, digital isn’t perfect. And it hasn’t ushered in the demise of print. But it isn’t going to disappear either.
Also, why deny it? Digital’s power to reach people is astounding. That’s why I think the printers who will truly thrive in the years to come will be those who looked to the future with eyes wide open.
That means they won’t just be pushing new print possibilities. They’ll also be looking for ways to help our customers win, not just with print but with the right combination of print and digital.
Chris Yuhasz founded POV Solution as a basement desktop publishing business 27 years ago in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. POV Solution provides printing services from Cleveland, Ohio, servicing clients coast-to-coast with commercial printing, graphic design and spot UV printing for finishing services.