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Print's Not Dead: Print Marketing Will Thrive in 2014 and Beyond

by Vladimir Gendelman  |  
January 8, 2014

As technology continues to develop—and change the way we do business—many have considered print a dead medium and online marketing the wave of the future. Nevertheless, the print industry is far from dead; in fact, print marketing has only continued to grow and evolve alongside the upsurge of new technology.

Direct mail continues to be used heavily, with a 43% share of total local retail advertising. And, according to a Pitney Bowes survey, 76% of small businesses say their ideal marketing strategy encompasses a combination of both print and digital communication.

There are many reasons why print is (and will remain) an effective tool for delivering your message to your audiences.

Variable Printing

Although variable printing is by no means a new process, consumers have been using it with more frequency as advancements in printing technology have lowered the cost. Variable printing allows you to uniquely customize each piece of media by changing certain elements from piece to piece, taking advantage of the power of complex personalization.

For example, you could run a mailer campaign and personalize each postcard with the name of the recipient, or create unique coupons with individual serial numbers so that you can track which customers used them. When this technique is used with variable images, for example, you could create a series of assorted business cards, each with a different photo background.

Photo: Eon Jung

Personalized print media has a more powerful presence than a personalized email, because the audience can recognize that it takes more effort to customize print media than digital. Accordingly, the audience feels special because of what is a personal touch often lacking in traditional print marketing.

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Vladimir Gendelman is founder and CEO of Company Folders Inc. He has spent over a decade learning the ins and outs of print marketing and specializes in helping businesses create quality marketing materials they can be proud of.

LinkedIn: Vladimir Gendelman

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  • by Wed Jan 8, 2014 via web

    Thanks for the article Vladimir. We're based over in Ireland. We regularly have conversations with clients on how to combine both print and digital effectively. At first they often just want to talk digital but when you start discussing engagement through print & digital they start to see the value.

    The one extra point I'd make about print and why it is still so useful is that it is tactile. It's the ability to touch and feel a piece of print that has been proven to help a prospect recall a companies product/offer or logo far better the digital alone. As you mentioned in your article, it's making sure you use specialist papers that add to that sensory engagement. This ultimately leads to a better chance of engaging with the digital element of a DM piece as you've created a "linger experience", meaning more time is spent with the print.

    Gary Berney @

  • by Eileen Burick Wed Jan 8, 2014 via mobile

    Under the topic of "standing out," print can also be created in effectively unique, die-cut shapes and folds which can enhance the message and increase engagement.

  • by James H. Wed Jan 8, 2014 via web

    Thanks for writing this! I definitely agree with you that print's not going anywhere (ever).

    Our lives still revolve around print material, especially since it's not just on paper. It could be on coffee mugs and other material goods like you pointed out. Also, the lack of print materials by other competitors leaves that marketing opportunity wide open. I thought that was a very good point.

  • by Fokke Wed Jan 8, 2014 via web

    Print is certainly not dead.
    But the QR code is, since the Layar augmented reality provides excellent print to web experience without the nasty code spoiling the artwork of the print itself.

  • by Wed Jan 8, 2014 via web


    In the high-tech B2B marketing world that we work in, printing is rare. Of the 140-150 production marketing projects we currently have in house, only 2 involve printing. And many companies, including high-tech startups with sustainability issues at top of mind, dedicate themselves to a paper free environment.

    However, with that said, you are correct about very highly targeted mailing pieces for B2B that are uniquely designed (box or unusual shape). They can work! As you pointed out, these pieces can resonate with people inundated by online data.


    Vince DeCarolis

  • by Donna Williams Thu Jan 9, 2014 via web

    I think the key messge here is about providing the right message at the right time to the right target audience - and this is not necessarily via digital media. With the plethora of emails and digital ads that we are exposed to on a daily basis, a piece of printed media has something of a novelty about it. Not only that but it is an unintrusive media that allows the recipient to choose if and when they want to consume it .. meaning that if they do, they are more likely to be in the right frame of mind to consume the message and act upon it.

    The other thing to think about is media complimentarity and direct mail loves digital! Used together you can create a very powerful brand experience ... greater than the sum of its parts.

  • by Gina Testa Thu Jan 9, 2014 via web

    I second that, Gary—we are human and, simply put, print creates a human, tangible connection. I recently came across an interesting study in the “Journal of Research in Reading” that said reading online may not be as effective or rewarding as reading the printed word. That same study found that physical manipulation (i.e. swiping your finger across a tablet or smartphone screen) distracts our focus from what we are reading, resulting in an inability to absorb messages in the way we would from a book or newspaper. However, I would argue that—because digital adds unique, complex elements to a marketing campaign—print and digital can and should be used in tandem. Because, no matter which medium you choose, a marketing campaign ultimately hinges on its relevancy and personalization to your target audience. —Gina Testa, Vice President, Xerox Worldwide Graphic Communications Business

  • by Vladimir Gendelman Thu Jan 9, 2014 via web

    Thank you for sharing your stories and offering suggestions, I will definitely make a note of it for future articles. Fokke, I have never heard of Layar before, but I just checked it out and it seems to be amazing, thank you for sharing.

  • by Thaddeus B Kubis Thu Jan 9, 2014 via web

    Great article, not much new to me since I have been an integrated print evangelist for the last 10 years. Great to see that world is beginning to see the true value of print. I just completed a book for the PIA, the guide to integrated marketing and media convergence for the printer. The book defines and supports much and more of what this excellent article states.

    Thaddeus B kubis

  • by Bob Zeitlinger Sun Jan 12, 2014 via web

    Good article. I think the same argument can be made for traditional print media relations. There's still a place for it -- and it still carries the legacy of "being real." That is, online publications have unlimited space that can be filled, so they can run more stories and carry more information. Print publications have limited space, so if your firm is featured in print editorial, you've made a much more selective cut.

    Bob Zeitlinger
    B To Z Communications
    Helping Businesses Achieve Their Goals Through Public Relations

  • by Toby Danylchuk Sun Jan 12, 2014 via mobile

    It's not dead, but if you're a local business best tactically to put as much budget to online efforts first. Print is still carpet bombing and you just hope enough people have the need and that you can appeal to them enough to respond. The retail companies I've worked with pay $5-10x the cost per lead,. Often the increased cost associated with variable data doesn't pay for itself.

  • by Aoife McArdle Wed Jan 15, 2014 via web

    Hi all, I recently sent a print campaign out to about 20 markets around the world and we experienced deliverability issues in LATAM and Africa. Does anyone know where I could find out more about the types of materials which get held at customs or anything I can do to prevent sending issues in the future? Thanks!

  • by Kelvin Mutize Fri Jan 17, 2014 via web

    They may say print is dead, come to Africa where not everyone owns a smartphone or has access to a computer and we still have a older generations which is not social media, email and computer savy, of which the younger generation is good in that area...

    They actually say in some countries of rural africa Radio is the most powerful media tool out there...

    Print is still alive certainly in most parts of Africa....

  • by Joe Fri Jan 24, 2014 via web

    Our company actually specializes in hybrid marketing. We did several extensive marketing studies that support this very fact. USPS profits increased in 2013 (actually only profitable sector). Look at the USPS first class mail discounts - all of them reward senders if it includes some kind of digital content. It's a fact that certain demographics are unreachable by email marketing. Print isn't going away.

    We deploy several hybrid marketing techniques using print and our technology. One combines cloud CRMS like Salesforce with our digital paper. We have the first paper with an embedded micro-chip. So imagine "plugging in" our paper and automatically be connected to a companies CRM database. The recipient becomes your data entry clerk!

    We've also done EDDM zip code demographic measurements. Our direct mail hybrid campaigns typically have a 300% to 400% increase over traditional direct mail. We take active open rates from each zip code and combine one hypersensitive customer list for our clients.

    Our technology allows us to do things different. Take a QR code for example. Traditionally the equation for a QR is URL = QR. With our tech the user can direct the recipient to multiple URLs in realtime using the same QR printed on our digital paper. Keep in mind, our paper stores information! Even without a QR we can still direct people to URLs.

    I personally think hybrid campaigns will be the way marketing is done in the future. Vive La Print!

  • by Tracy Noyes Mon Feb 24, 2014 via web

    Great article Vladimir. After the introduction of digital media, digital advertisements etc many expected the traditional methods, whether the printing service, the mailing service, all expected them to perish. But they did stand and for me they actually made these direct mailing, printing, fluxes etc very special. I am in publishing business and I've been carrying out direct mail promotions and banners, T-shirt design promotions to build our business and I've found great turn around than all other digital promotions. These ideas where given to me by Troi Mailing Service in Toronto and they clicked just find. Some traditional ways stays strong and good, just need to change according to the changing market.

  • by Mark DeBellis Sun Mar 2, 2014 via web

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and insights to this conversation. I think Donna nailed it and it is and always has been the tenet of responsible marketing. The decision has to be the right medium at the right place at the right time. It ultimately is driven by the goals of the campaign and the budget available. Ironically, we are finding that many of our clients, especially over these past few years during declining budget periods, have shifted perhaps too much of their budget into digital and social media because of cost constraints, necessity and perceived effectiveness (the jury is out on social media value for some industries). Now, as we begin to see direct mail communication opportunities growing (we work with a lot of financial institution clients where direct mail is still very relevant especially in marketing loans), clients are faced with the challenge of trying to internally sell the need for budget increase to pay for it. So we need to add, "the right medium at the right place at the right time...with the budget available to pay for it!" :)

    Joe, please share more of this imbedded technology paper. Sounds fascinating.

  • by Whole Sale Print Shop Tue Feb 10, 2015 via web

    Thought this a great article that clearly addresses the issues of print media and social media and how companies use it well to help promote their business.

  • by Tue Mar 3, 2015 via web

    Augmented Reality is the trend in Print Advertising. It taps into the possibility of setting things into interactive print by integrating it with digital content and allows the allows print content to come alive with Video, 3D, Animations, Call-to-Action, Deals and much more.

  • by Carrie Tue Oct 11, 2016 via web

    Does anyone know if any tools out there exist for monitoring what competitors are advertising in print, preferably in the Boston and Metro West area? Thank you!

  • by somiching hungyo Thu Nov 3, 2016 via mobile

    I want sample of marketing strategy on printing firm

  • by Matt 12 Fri May 11, 2018 via web

    I fully agree that augmented reality has a huge impact on the printing industry. AR technology is a tool for attracting attention and increasing the usefulness of any product or service. My opinion is that augmented reality is a trend lately. I think it's just not all publishers still know how augmented reality can affect their business and double their income. I can recommend in the continuation of the topic interesting information about the role of augmented reality in the publishing -

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