As a graphic designer, I have found that the reports of the death of print media have been greatly exaggerated. Not only is print design alive and well—it’s thriving. The success of print design is largely due to the fact that it has become more accessible and affordable to both average consumers and small businesses.
Print Adds Legitimacy
Print marketing collateral such as business cards and flyers is a still valuable aspect of marketing and business. In fact, print often provides legitimacy to small businesses, individuals and start-ups. Consumers and other businesses recognize that money is commitment. By producing print collateral, you demonstrate to potential clients, colleagues and business partners that you are willing to invest in your business. Beyond that, print elements also offer a tangible experience: handing someone a business card can make a much deeper impression than if you simply refer them to your website.
It’s No Longer Print vs. Digital
Print and digital do not have to have an adversarial relationship. In truth, you should be using them in combination to achieve your goals. While it’s true that digital offers several advantages—such as the ability to reach an extraordinarily broad audience with minimal cost and measure that reach—true engagement with digital is usually a matter of discovery.
Print can overcome that limitation and allow you to drive targeted traffic to a website or another digital platform. Business cards are one of the best examples of print’s potential for encouraging online engagement. Today, it would be very unlikely for you to receive a business card that doesn’t have a website or at least an email address printed on it.
While this example may seem obvious, there several other creative ways that you can leverage print media to draw attention or to drive traffic to your website and other digital media.
Using Print to Drive Digital Traffic
At first, QR codes did non gain much traction in the United States because they weren’t used effectively or creatively when they were introduced. Since then, however, many designers and creative agencies have found interesting and unique ways to incorporate them into self-promotion and marketing campaigns for clients.
QR codes can also be used as a gateway to interactive media such as videos rather than just websites. You could print a QR code on the back or the corner of a T-shirt with a unique artistic design. The code could direct a user to a video of the designer creating the artwork rather than just a website or commercial for the clothing line.
Other interesting marketing campaigns that successfully incorporate QR codes can include free downloads of music or exclusive content for upcoming movies or video games. QR codes are an example of making print more interactive.
Firm: Braley Design | Creative Team: Michael Braley | Client: AAF Lexington | Project Description: AAF Lexington hosted the Interactive Social conference designed for the forward-thinking. This poster was recognized in the HOW Poster Design Awards.
You Can Track Sales From Print Marketing When Combined With Digital
Magazine advertisements often act as a funnel for online businesses and Internet companies, despite the assumption that these type of businesses advertise strictly online. By targeting magazines that are popular among their customer base, companies are able to drive more online sales. They can even track and attribute those sales to their print advertising by incorporating unique online promotion or discount codes into the marketing materials. Not only does this strategy provide an incentive for customers to visit the company’s website, but it also allows businesses to determine where their sales came from and gauge the success of their print advertisements.
Print is Still Big Business for the Design and Advertising Industry
Out-of-home advertisements such as billboards and signs tend to include website addresses. Five to 10 years ago this wasn’t a common practice, but now more than ever print is acting as a gateway to digital media. Many of the products we use also feature the company or brand website on the packaging, potentially prompting consumers to learn more about the product or make additional purchases.
Although many companies are investing more and more in digital marketing and design, some will never abandon print entirely. In fact, we are currently transitioning to more integrated marketing—and this trend is not limited to larger companies or those that produce physical products. The entertainment industry will continue to leverage print for many years to come, particularly when it comes to large-scale events and new product launches.
While it’s true that designers and agencies are under more pressure to provide digital and web based solutions, that doesn’t mean that the demand for print design is waning. It simply means that the market for print has shifted, and the way it’s being leveraged has changed.
Not only is print alive and well, but it is no longer competing directly with digital. Instead, print is working in tandem with digital to serve the needs of both companies and consumers.
Print Still Has More To Offer
While digital design offers unlimited access, print design offers exposure and an experience. Print gives a customer the opportunity to physically engage with a product, service or brand and learn where to access it digitally. Both experiences are important in building loyalty and connecting with consumers.
Today print is more affordable for individuals and small businesses, and the tools and information needed to leverage print design—from Adobe InDesign and Illustrator to more common tools—are more accessible than ever before.
Print design has been a part of our buying and decision making process for a long time. The role it plays may be changing and evolving, but it certainly won’t be exiting the stage anytime soon.
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