I recently received a print marketing piece titled “5 Reasons Start-Ups Need Print.” I read this, and it frustrated me. Are print companies still targeting startups to spend money on print? And most importantly: why?
This print piece listed the following reasons start-ups need print:
- The digital world is vast.
- Digital marketing relies on targeting niches.
- Print has staying power.
- Print gives small businesses a lot of options.
- Print provides instant credibility.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that print has its place. Whether it’s signage, a coupon, or a newspaper ad, there are some instances where print is effective. This is true for those of us that live in Southwest Florida and understand that our demographic is older. They subscribe to publications like the Fort Myers News-Press, Naples Daily News, etc. Again, print has its place, but I disagree with most of the reasons “=start-ups need print as listed above. Here, I’ll propose my counter-arguments to these reasons with my own.
Reason #1: The Digital World is Vast
The print people might think that this isn’t a good thing, but I think it is. The digital world provides businesses and consumers with a sizable platform. Digital advertising gives the small guys a chance to play with big brands.
Let’s take a mom-and-pop restaurant that specializes in some of the best chicken wings in town. Places like Chili’s, Applebee’s, and others big-box restaurants would dominate any print marketing available to them. If digital advertising weren’t available, then this mom-and-pop shop would rely solely on word of mouth (which is still one of the best forms of marketing) and a print piece that a potential customer might not even see (think the local school’s yearbook ad section). With digital marketing, this mom-and-pop shop can pay anywhere from $30-$50 per month on AdWords, Facebook, etc. and still be alongside the “big guys.”
Reason #2: Digital Marketing Relies on Targeting Niches
You’re a business owner. Which would you rather do:
- Spend $2,000 on a magazine ad that is delivered to C-level execs (no guarantee they will read it)
- Spend $50 per month on AdWords, which only charges you after someone clicks to your website (you don’t pay for AdWords until someone clicks)
Targeting niches is 100% absolutely a good thing for businesses. I can’t fathom why I, as a business owner, would want to spend money on an ad that generally gets delivered to my target audience that they might see.
With tools like Facebook, we can literally advertise to people that meet the following criteria: a CEO of a small company with 1-10 employees that is likely to move and currently lives in Florida. I’ll take that option over print targeting any day.
Reason #3: Digital Moves with the Consumer
The print company says that “print has staying power.” Did you know that the average human attention span is 8 seconds? This fact has been debated, but I can’t argue with the fact that I constantly unlock my phone to check the time, only to have checked Pinterest, Instagram, etc. and close my phone 60 seconds later (to only then open it again to check the time and begin the embarrassing process all over).
My point here is that print might have staying power because it is static. It will sit on a coffee table. It could get read again or just tossed once it’s too old to be a coffee table accessory. Digital marketing opens an entire creepy targeted world of advertising that plays into our short attention spans.
Tools like remarketing allow companies to target people that visit the site and leave without converting or purchasing. By playing into users’ lack of attention spans, we’re able to target them wherever they jump to next: Facebook, CNN, Skype, etc.
Reason #4: Digital Gives Businesses Many Options
There are a lot of print publications out there. But there are infinitely more digital options.
Digital marketing allows you to easily (and less expensively) target people on Google, Bing, other websites they frequent, Facebook, and pretty much anywhere else a consumer might hang out online.
Additionally, once a print piece is designed, that’s all you’ve got to work with for that month/quarter/year. Digital allows you to constantly assess, rework, and grow to get more leads. Print does – but only to the extent that it’s time for a new publication. This is something business owners have no control over and they are at the mercy of print publications.
Reason #5: Digital Provides Instant Credibility
The print company in question notes that print provides instant credibility because it shows you have the money to play in print. Which basically lets us know that:
Print. Is. Expensive.
We’ve revamped our own marketing in the last year and we’re not opposed to trying a tactic that will help us grow (our motto is “grow your business online” after all). We tried print and it just wasn’t effective.
Depending on the publication, a quarter of a page in a magazine can cost upwards of $1,000 – $2,000 per print. This eliminates any business that doesn’t have a sizable marketing budget which to me, does not equate to credibility.
Did you know there are approximately 3.5 billion searches on Google each day around the globe? People constantly turn to search engines to look for everything: food, entertainment, shopping, etc. And with a proper online presence, businesses are counted as credible when they have real reviews from real customers, real people listed on websites, etc. Print is to credibility as peaches are to tires. They just don’t correlate.
Know Your Marketing Mix
To conclude, print does have its place. However, it certainly does not and will never take the place of digital marketing. Digital marketing opens plenty of new options to consumers and businesses, which levels the playing field. As a business owner, it’s up to you to task your internal marketing team or your agency with figuring out who your target is and where they hang out (on and offline). Chances are that you’ll find digital provides larger ROI compared to print.