The Power of Print in a Digital Age

by Annalize Haughton at October 19, 2016

There’s no denying that digital technologies have changed the way that marketers work. In fact, many brands now spend more on digital marketing technology than they do on IT, and Forrester estimates that digital advertising will overtake TV sometime this year.

To us, it often feels as though marketers get so excited by the possibilities of digital that they neglect to question whether it’s the right thing to do to achieve the goals of their campaign. Sure, Snapchat is big business, but will it generate an ROI? And is it the best tool to use to reach consumers?

We’ve been in the marketing business for over twenty years, and so we remember the days when print ads were huge and direct mail was as big and as trendy as social media marketing is today. And we believe that print still has a lot to offer, especially when the online marketplace is so crowded.

The key is to make sure that your messages are timely and relevant, and that they’re delivered according to consumer preferences. It may be that printed messaging is what your audience responds to – in the non-profit sector, for example, 78% of donations come from direct mail.


International Print Day 2016


And if you think that millennials prefer to interact with brands online, you’ll be surprised to know that 92% of young shoppers say they prefer direct mail for making purchase decisions.

E-mail marketing hasn’t quite killed print, either – since 2004, before the rise of social networking, direct mail response rates have increased by 14%, whilst e-mail marketing response rates have dropped by 57%.

And let’s face it – print allows you to do all sorts of cool stuff that you just can’t replicate online, from augmented reality to origami. You can even create direct marketing in three-dimensions, using similar concepts to pop-up books.

Much of the power of print comes from the fact that the consumer can physically hold what you deliver to them. In a world of ephemeral messaging through Twitter and Snapchat, something that you can pick up, play around with and potentially put on your wall is going to make a much more lasting impression.

It’s also been found that people who touch a product are not only more likely to buy it, but that they’re also willing to pay more for it. It’s not much of a stretch to assume that the same applies to printed messaging.



At fst, we’re not a print agency, and we’re not a digital agency either. We’re discipline neutral, and while we have specialists in different areas, we always strive to use whichever medium is most appropriate to meet a client’s goals.

Too many people jump straight into digital marketing, or social media marketing, or even print marketing, purely because they have a sense that that’s where they should be. This approach is wrong!

Print marketing is a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal, but so is digital. The key lies in knowing when to use what, and the most important question of all is, ‘Why?’

Once you get the ‘why’ right, the rest follows, whether print plays a part in the marketing mix or not. But used effectively, it can add an extra dimension to your marketing efforts that simply can’t be duplicated through other channels.