Is Commercial Printing Out of Style?


Once upon a time, commercial printing was a necessity if you wanted to reach new customers. However, as more and more people got online and the scope of the internet grew, many firms turned to digital marketing to reach their target audiences. While commercial printing is not dead and never will be, there has been a shift toward more digital marketing than ever before.

Many brands see the benefit of spreading their efforts among various media types. Here are some of the factors to consider and why you should embrace digital and print marketing.

1. Engaging Users With Dynamic Content

A big advantage of digital marketing is the ability to create dynamic content. For example, you might have a game that gives them a chance to win a discount on their next order or free merchandise. Research shows ad impressions are almost evenly split between desktops, tablets and smartphones, so optimizing your ads for various devices is a good idea.

Even if you choose to create online content so you can better engage users, you may still need print material to invite them to your website or social media pages. When you develop a new app for your customers, send them a letter and an email to let them know how to download it.

Most consumers are online and check their mailboxes daily. Communicating in multiple ways gives you the best chance of your message sticking and becoming recognizable as distinctly yours.

2. Quick Return

Commercial printing takes time. The result is often a beautiful, glossy advertisement, but something must be said for the quick return of posting something in the digital stratosphere.

Creators can shoot a video showing how to use the product, add a photo and testimonial on social media, and let users know about a flash sale. The best marketing strategies tap into the power of digital and print advertising to reach a broad mix of users and keep the brand name at the forefront of people’s minds.

3. Growing Popularity of Digital Printing

Experts predict by 2028, around 30% of pages will be printed digitally. The meshing of print and digital files has been around for a while but is becoming more widely used because of its speed. Commercial printing requires finding a vendor that can handle volume, but you may have affordable in-house capabilities as technology improves.

4. Considering Consumer Preferences

When deciding whether to use digital or commercial printing ads, you should take your customers’ preferences into account. Those who serve younger generations — such as Gen-Zers — may find digital marketing is much more effective at reaching their target audience.

On the other hand, if most of your customers are baby boomers, you will find they prefer to hold something physical in their hands. Sending out a flier or postcard may be better received.

You can also try different types of ad campaigns, doing some in print and some online, and tracking their effectiveness and return on investment (ROI). Repeat the efforts with the highest ROI and eliminate the ones that underperform.

5. Comparing Costs

Take the time to compare the cost of running a digital campaign and commercial printing. On the surface, you might think digital ads are cheaper. However, if you do not get as good of an ROI, you may find print ads perform better.

One example might be a small heating and cooling business in a specific service area. While you can reach your target market online, they may not pay much attention if they do not need the service at that time. However, if you send a printed marketing piece to their home, they are likely to tuck it away with the idea they might need HVAC services at some point.

Printed materials can bring you more customers and have a higher ROI if you run a service-based business. If you offer a software as a service program, you might get a better ROI by tapping into social media ads or asking a business influencer to endorse your brand.

6. Virtual Reality (VR)

Experts predict the VR market will hit $22 billion by 2025. One might think all the growth in technology would somewhat destroy commercial printing. However, the two can weave together for VR and augmented reality (AR) experiences.

Picture a menu where the user hovers over an image with their smartphone and it comes to life, putting them into an AR experience where they can interact with the offerings. VR technology might combine with signage and printed material in a store so the user can engage with a virtual world while shopping in person.

7. Environmental Concerns

People are more aware of being kind to the environment and reducing their carbon footprints. Digital printing does not require the felling of trees or the extensive process paper mills use. There is less pollution in the environment and forests remain protected.

Some people care deeply about conservation and will throw their business to brands that share their values. Most companies will keep some commercial printing but may be able to shift to digital to reduce waste.

Commercial Printing Will Never Go Out of Style

Although digital advertising continues to increase, commercial printing will always remain. From billboards to signage to printed flyers and postcards, physical images are the best way to reach local audiences.

People are highly visual, so seeing ads online and offline can help solidify brand recognition and pull them into an experience. Pay attention technological shifts and learn the best ways to mesh print and digital for maximum impact.

Eleanor Hecks is the managing editor at Designerly. She’s also a mobile app designer with a focus on UI. Connect with her about digital marketing, UX and/or tea on LinkedIn.

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