There is a perception that printing is dead… No-one sends letters, no-one has brochures – everything is online or in a pdf. But is that really the case for successful businesses?
The trouble with digital correspondence and marketing is that it is transitory. It lacks the permanence of something tangible that you hold in your hand, and there is a real risk that your important message will fail to make the desired impression.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating going back to snail-mail for ongoing written conversations. Email, WhatsApp and other digital platforms make our interactions fast and easy. They’re more formal than a phone call and provide the short-term record needed to move projects and processes forward. I’m not suggesting waiting for a choice of brochures to arrive by post before making purchasing decisions either: instant, easy information is what the Internet and digital communication is designed to deliver.
However, there are times when nothing can come close to the impact and message that a paper brochure or communication can provide. Its ability to make an impression on other senses simultaneously gives it an enormous marketing edge over its digital counterpart. Its message is not just visual, but also has undertones delivered through touch and smell. An emailed invitation inevitably has a casual, perhaps mass-market feel to it however nicely designed it may be, whereas a beautifully embossed or foil printed invitation card shouts the importance of the recipient and the perceived value of the occasion.
Consider the humble business card… It’s one of the first impressions a customer gets about you and all too often it fails to meet its potential in terms of message and impact. A well-designed card, beautifully printed on the right card stock will always say that you care about detail and quality.
There’s something rather wonderful about the feel of good traditional paper and card, about the depth or subtlety of colours available, and about the sensory impact of embossing, foiling and all the other haptic finishes on offer.
The other factor that will impact on the future of printed materials is the brain’s ability to hold information for more than a few seconds. Studies suggest that the reader will retain more of the message they have read in print than they have read on screen. Part of that is related to the spatial awareness we get from physical reading matter – the layout on the page and the position in the publication – and part may be inbuilt perceptions that somehow the printed page is more important. Whatever the reasons, the consensus appears to be that the printed word stays with the reader longer.
The print market has certainly changed over the last decade, but it absolutely isn’t less important. Specialist printing for important communications – whether on tissue paper, heavy card or anything in between – plays a fundamental role in delivering specific messages that require maximum impact and longevity.