The Power’s in the Integration of Print and Digital

printdigitalPNGIf Michael Fernadnez of Advertising Age was trying to hit a nerve with his “stop printing catalogs” message last week, he sure succeeded. Response was swift and passionate, including Christine Alexander’s take on why direct marketing catalogs are worth it.

Today we offer a thoughtful look at the intersection of print and digital and why this is where the two platforms will form a powerful and effective marketing message.

“The fact is, integrated marketing in the ‘digital age’ includes catalog and print as components of a successful marketing mix, as much as it does digital and social channels,” writes Thomas J. Benton of the DMA.

“Characterizing catalogs as ‘out of control’ is a gross oversimplification, and calling for repeal of all catalogs is an irresponsible suggestion,” Benton continues.

“Today’s data-driven marketers still produce catalogs and deploy direct mail campaigns for a simple reason – it works.  Yes, even for some Millennial audiences.”

Like all good marketing, success begins with properly segmenting your target audience and offering the most relevant marketing message you can create. And data, naturally, helps us do this. So it’s easy to think that digital materials — so easy to deliver via this data stream — are the best solution.

But digitally-based materials alone can’t offer the kind of return that print gets.

“…the proven potential for boosting sales and increasing return-on-investment has brought new interest in print catalogs,” notes Benton.

“Indeed, some retailers, who until recently have operated primarily online, are today entering the catalog fray, including Bonobos, the menswear brand built on the idea of better-fitting pants.  And many traditional store retailers with a history of catalogs remain as committed as ever,” he notes.

As Benton summarizes, success lies not in either/or, but in remembering that consumers use a variety of channels to engage with us.

“Today’s sophisticated marketers keep emotion out of the decision-making process and allow the numbers to indicate how best to invest their marketing dollars,” he continues, urging every marketer to aim toward optimization across all channels as the ultimate win.