As Print Evolves Its Impact Grows

CRMFar from being a declining medium, printed direct mail is growing in influence and importance says one industry study.

Looking to engage your audience and motivate them to purchase? Make sure print is part of your multi-channel strategy.

“Print-based direct marketing is growing and playing an increasingly important role in multichannel marketing, according to a study by market research and strategic consulting firm InfoTrends,” writes Sam Del Rowe in CRM Magazine.

“The catalog really drives people to other channels,” said Barb Pellow, group director of InfoTrends’ Consulting Group. “One of the big things that came out of the study was that the catalog is a reminder to go online to do something.”

(As if to prove the point, I first read this article in my printed copy of CRM Magazine, which I had set aside to read when I had some time away from the computer. Then I went online to find and share the digital link with you. Without the permanence of the printed copy I doubt I’d have seen this article at all.)

In the B2B world, some publishers are learning the hard way that print remains a significant channel for their audience: Print continues to be a huge resource for C-suite level decision making. Budget-based decisions to move away from printed communications have backfired for industry organizations, in much the same way they have for retailers like LL Bean, JC Penney and others who dabbled with reduced catalog mailings.

This new research reinforces what we’ve learned over the past few years that print rocks as a channel influencer and catalogs are critical for growing sales.

And it’s not just for big names, Del Rowe notes. “While many consumers showed strong interest in catalogs from big brands such as L.L.Bean, IKEA, and Victoria’s Secret, there were also significant mentions of brands in niche markets and online companies, reflecting some important trends: Small and midsize businesses are also using catalogs; online companies use catalogs to extend sales reach and brand awareness; and the market is shifting from general catalogs to targeted, niche titles,” he writes.

As cataloging has evolved and become a tool for brand journalism, printed direct mail has become less about the stuff and more about the story. It’s a powerful combination of a traditional form of media used to tell a modern story.