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Making the case for print

Posted by Sarah Mitchell on 8th November , 2022 in The Write Fit
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In 2009 our family adopted a dog from a local rescue shelter. Jojo was a year old when she came to live at our house. We didn’t know anything about her except she’d been picked up walking along a country road. We called those first 12 months our “year of apologies” as we learned how to manage our independent, strong-willed girl.

Since then, Jojo was a constant presence in my office, providing the rhythmic snoring that fuelled nearly everything I’ve written for the past 12 years.

We were devasted when she passed away last month. After she died, the emergency room vet asked us what we wanted to do with our sweet girl. I asked what our options were and she thrust two brochures in my hand and said there was no rush to decide.

I was surprised to get old-school marketing from a modern veterinary hospital. It crossed my mind that it was a fast way to get visibly upset people out of their waiting room. The next day though, I began to see the wisdom of print.

As I sat down to go through the brochures, I realised I was reading every page. Both were well written and explained their process, prices, and guarantees. There were a few key differentiators between the two companies, and it took about 20 minutes to decide.

Those brochures saved us ages searching websites and trying to figure out what we wanted. I trusted the recommendations from the vet hospital way more than a search algorithm. The thoughtful pamphlets alleviated frustration and instilled confidence at a time when we were all feeling emotional but had to make an important decision.

Is it time to reverse the decline of print?

It’s no secret print marketing is on the decline. IKEA quit publishing their 70-year-old print catalogue in 2020. It’s the only thing that ever made me consider putting myself through the trauma of navigating their hellscape floor plan. It’s no coincidence I haven’t visited in years. A local household hardware chain in Australia, Bunnings, announced last week they were discontinuing their print catalogue in favour of digital-only marketing. I never go to the Bunnings website, but I did browse their catalogue when it came into the house.

Digital doesn’t serve all purposes, all the time. People of all ages benefit from print marketing. Johnathan Zhang, a researcher and professor of marketing at Colorado State University, reports in the Harvard Business Review that printed content lingers longer than emails or social media. Print increases top-of-mind awareness and, for certain products, enhances the consumer’s ability to visualise and imagine product use experiences. I agree.

If you’re thinking about doing away with your print marketing, think again. If you haven’t used print marketing in a while, it might be time to reconsider that, too. I was grateful for the brochures I had when I needed to make a tough decision. They delivered a far better customer experience than any website could have in our situation.

Sarah Mitchell
8 November 2022


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