With us already a third of the way through 2022, I’m writing to restart the efforts we make to stay in communication with our clients and partners. As it has been for many of you, Covid’s effect on AlphaGraphics has been sizable. Because many of our clients weren’t engaging in any in-person activities, they found other ways to deliver their messaging than print. We’ve spent much of the past two years improving our operational processes and efficiency, thus improving the outcomes and experience for our clients.
So, as we inch deeper into our 33rd year in business, I’d like to start by expressing my gratitude to all of you who’ve ridden out this crazy past two years with us. I also want to share some thoughts—based on a conversation I had recently with a family member. That is this: Print today is as important to your business’ health as it ever was, and rumors of our industry’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
If you are in a marketing or creative role for your organization, I think that fact should be built into your 2022 marketing plan. If not, it’s worth revisiting.
The pandemic has been like rocket fuel for some industries, and like a wet towel for many others. Certainly, traditional media—including print—is one of the later. But industry analysts and marketing forecasters point out that print, especially in its broadest sense (signage, large-format graphics as well as mailings, catalogs, collateral, labels and the like), has been back on the upswing since mid-2021.
In 2020, the Global Commercial Printing Market had a value of $411.99 billion. By the end of 2026, it is estimated to value $472.35 billion, according to NAPCO Research. The world may become more digital, but the value of tangible components of a company’s story continues to rise.
Here are several things to consider regarding the importance of “print” to your organization’s brand and communications efforts in today’s market.
Rely on Mail More
Sales is a multi-touch process that needs to start someplace. While online advertising and improving your search results help increase traffic to your website, you often aren’t as able to control the reasons visitors come. Few methods drive web traffic—whether to learn more about a topic or to register for an offer—than mail. While e-mail response rates have continued to decline, mail’s response rate has risen in recent years, to as high as 5%. Leverage the power of print to cross increased engagement with existing content. Additionally, modern commercial printers like AlphaGraphics can leverage technology to build campaigns that connect your printed direct marketing with your e-mail campaigns—increasing views and response for both media.
Bring Your Print to Life
Whether you are using QR codes to direct to specific web pages, social media or videos, or leveraging Augmented Reality, “static” print items—such as posters, brochures, post cards, business cards or even vehicle graphics—can, and should, be brought to life via the digital communication behind them. In this way, print is the starting point for all your other marketing. To view this concept in action, check out this AR video demonstration by AG client Amplifier.
Use Print to Build Trust
Print is the most trusted source of information and brand messaging across all age demographics, according to a survey by MarketingSherpa. Because of its ability to put something tactile into the hands of readers, print establishes and maintains your brand’s relationships with your most important audiences in ways that instill confidence, invite engagement and build trust better than any other media can.
Feel the Difference
Touch reinforces memory recall more than any other sense. It’s part of the reason that agencies and printers alike advise clients to engage the reader of printed materials with more than great-looking visuals and content. Unique shapes (die cuts) and finishes and other tangible elements unique to print—embossing, foil, different paper textures and weights and more—invite the reader to hold, feel and engage with printed pieces in ways that won’t only be remembered, but the value the recipient puts on these elements will likely ensure it sticks around on a desk, counter or coffee table in a way no digital item possibly could.
The term print is quite broad. In our world, this encompasses everything from vehicle wraps to graphics on walls, windows and buildings to banners and signage of all sorts. These all fit the moniker of “out of home” advertising. We encourage our clients to use such visuals to proactively take their message to the market. With the combination of print equipment on the market today, the hundreds of materials that are available to print on, and the talent of professional installers, the only real limit in terms of what can be done is often just the imagination of creatives. I would say think big not just in execution but in concept. While the investment isn’t small, the returns are typically huge.
Don’t Overlook Your Most Important Audience
Even pre-pandemic and the “great resignation,”attracting, engaging and retaining talent was difficult for companies across almost all industries. When building, enhancing and maintaining your company’s brand, your internal audience isn’t just important, it really is your most important audience. We often think about marketing as being communicating to customers and prospects, but the importance of engaging your team has never been higher, nor more challenging. For all the same reasons, and in all the same ways, I have discussed print’s importance to your marketing communications, think of print as your go-to for employee communication. Even the most simple and inexpensive tool—business cards—are part of this. Even if your analyst may never actually be face-to-face with your customers, she may be an effective marketer across friend and family by making sure she has business cards to give to her own network. As much as it makes an impact with your external audiences, printed communications will resonate even more with employees.
Thank you, again, for your trust in us. I am confident that your usage of print will continue to move toward pre-pandemic levels as some business standards return, like face-to-face meetings, trade shows and even travel. Ahead of all elements being thought through and all designs being finalized, I encourage you as we get back to a “new normal” to think of how print can make its biggest impact for you. And I encourage you to think of your AlphaGraphics team as a creative partner and resource in developing the best ideas to use this medium, not just to help you execute them.