Growing – that’s how 60% of B2B publishers describe their reading audience in the latest report from the Association of Business Information & Media Companies. Print publishing in particular remains the largest source of revenue for publishers polled, and print publications consistently made it into the top three channels of influence.
Oddly, only 11 percent of marketers polled planned to up their print ad spent this year. It’s a strange disconnect between user behavior and marketing decisions, and could come down to taking the easy way out.
“While you may be able to track circulation figures and response to individual ads —tracking print results will never be as sophisticated as the simplest online tracking capabilities that instantly show you how many people read an article, liked it, and passed it on,” explains Cheryl Goldberg in Business2Community.
For marketers feeling the pressure to meet KPIs and show quantitative ROI, digital is easier…even if it’s not the most effective use of precious marketing dollars.
Goldberg notes, however, that “savviest marketers then are not abandoning print,” explaining that “when companies publish their own print publications, they reap numerous qualitative benefits that nonetheless directly support sales.”
Articles in company publications are especially effective at opening doors into the C-suite, something that Loni Frazita discovered after sending a reporter to interview an exec for a trend article.
“Once the article came out, we had a relationship with them,” said Frazita. “The article acted as an icebreaker and allowed us to start a conversation. The sales rep could call and ask if they could drop off the magazine. By then, the customer was often more willing to listen.”
Print remains a solid way to build and cement relationships with customers and prospects. As Esri’s Jesse Theodore notes, “our marketing and sales people love print publication leave-behinds. There’s something visceral about seeing a story in print versus seeing it in digital.”
Sure, the response is not as easy to measure as a digital click. Yet savvy marketers have worked magic in determining real print ROI for decades, and the easy way out is not always the smart way. In fact, it rarely is.
“The printed stories are very compelling. The light goes on in their eyes. It does a lot to build bridges and assuage concerns. This happens much more with a print article than a PDF. People just get it,” Theodore notes.