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It's Not Print Vs. Digital: Combine your Social Media and Print Advertising Efforts

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|Mar 5|magazine18 min read

Print is dead.

But is it? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that phrase uttered over the last 10 or so years. As a student of English literature at university, e-readers and social media were the bad guys. As an editor for a digital publication, I’m not longer so cynical. The Internet and all that goes along with it isn’t killing all print media; there are still newspapers, magazines and books—just less of them.

What the Internet is doing though, is making us become more creative about how we market things. It’s been proven that banner ads are largely ignored by the surfing public, so new and innovative solutions are needed constantly. And while print isn’t new or innovative, it could be the solution for your next brand awareness campaign.

Not just print though: print and digital, working together in harmony, to promote your brand for maximum exposure. It’s possible! Digital venues—social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest—are the easiest ways to connect with your customers, and it’s not as hard as you think to integrate social media with print.

One Word: Hashtag

Hashtags rule the Internet. If you can hashtag your Instagram photo or tweet right, thousands of people will see it. Society has used hashtags for important rights campaigns—like Sydney’s recent #Illridewith you campaign that gained prominence after the #SydneySiege. Companies hashtag shortened versions of their mission statements or latest advertising push with the hopes that it will be picked up by the larger tweeting public.

An important note before getting started: make sure your hashtag hasn’t already been taken. It would be a shame if your campaign accidentally helped promote something else!

One of the best things about using hashtags is that the trend is very easy to follow: just click on your hashtag within the appropriate social media platform and you can see exactly how your campaign is being received. 

Adding a hashtag word or phrase to your print advertising is incredibly easy and is a great way to give your customers a window into your campaign. Social media users can type in the hashtag right there and then to see what exactly the campaign is about and how other people are responding to it.  Add it to everything in your print advertising: business cards, postcards or mail you send out, catalogues, flyers, billboards and the like. It doesn’t have to be the focus—actually, you can usually have your hashtag in a smaller font and offset from the rest of the text—and it can still generate interest.

Don’t give much away at all on in your print advertising—hit the high notes, and provide just enough information to interest the reader or viewer—and then direct him or her online via your hashtag or links to social media accounts.

Consistency Across Platforms

A strong, recognisable logo is the cornerstone to any business, and to major marketing campaigns. Keeping your logo—as well as hashtags—consistent across all platforms is one of the keys to driving a successful marketing campaign.

If your company has been around long enough, chances are your logo has been through a few different iterations. Some companies also present their logos in different colours and different formats. When running a new marketing campaign, sticking to one logo will help your customers realise your brand immediately.

Catalogues: Print, Digital or Both?

Digital catalogues are gaining more readership than print catalogues—right? As everything else moves to digital, you’d think catalogues would be a natural fit for tablets. Better do some more research. If you haven’t had time to dig into the books (or more likely, the Internet), here are a few interesting things to know about print vs. digital.

Although easy and cheaper to publish, online catalogues do not do nearly as well as their print counterparts. A study done in the lead up to Christmas 2012 by the Australian Catalogue Association (ACA) found that only 11 percent read catalogues online, and that 70 percent of Australians—over the age of 14—prefer printed catalogues.

In relation to this trend, Australian retailers spend just about $1.5 billion each year producing catalogues. At the end of the day, catalogues equal about 60 percent of retailers’ advertising budget—60 percent! This is definitely one medium where print trumps digital. However, it’s an absolute must to combine the two.

Easy solution: depending on your company’s financial situation, offer both. Make sure your catalogues include social media URLS, hashtags for your customers to use, and maybe QR codes to direct them to your website via a QR code reader app. 

Mailing: Get Creative!

You probably would expect direct mail advertising budgets to start plummeting as well, but like with catalogues, that’s not the case. Marketing Sherpa states that a whopping 80 percent of companies that responded will either keep their direct mail budget the same or be increasing it. (A quick note on the survey: spend on email, social media and website updates was also going to increase for the majority of respondents.)

Lin Grensing-Pophal, author of Direct Mail in a Digital Age, believes the shift to digital marketing has given print an unintentional advantage.

Read related articles from Business Review Australia:
The Power of Social Media in Food & Restaurant Marketing
INFOGRAPHIC: How Social Networking Sites Are Replacing Traditional Marketing

“Mailboxes aren’t as cluttered, thanks to digital marketing," she said. "But, the Web is getting more cluttered.”

We’ve already mentioned that all of your social media marketing can be included on the mail or direct mail you send out. But how do you get your potential customers to pay attention to your mail?

Again, consistency is important, as far as a company’s logo and message goes. But your packaging should be eye-popping and as interesting as you can get it. There are so many different options for printing these days, including new and innovative formats, paper wraps and even 3-D mailers if you’ve got the budget for them.

Combining print and digital means limitations no longer apply in print. With so many digital technologies options, you can add links to printed materials for digital targeting, webcasts and videos, PURLs, and QR and other 2D codes. This Renewal by Anderson 3-D campaign introduced its newest product to sales managers by combining print and digital to drive prospects to a webinar.

Where Should Your Business Focus Their Efforts?

As usual, there’s no advice that fits each and every business; however finding a way to add an aspect of your online advertising or social media platforms to your print media is a win for most companies.

 “There are certain industries, serving a specific demographic, that will always appreciate and need a tangible representation of a product, service or company," says Jennifer Fuhrman, marketing executive with Chicago agency Marketcity.

The only way you’re going to know what you need is to know your customer base as well as you can.

“You have to know your audience. Evaluate your clients and their specific needs to determine what will work best,” said Grensing-Prophal. “Don’t jump on the bandwagon just because it’s the latest big thing.”

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