Label PRomotion | Reports of Print's Demise Prove Greatly Exaggerated

Are you tired of reading about the “death of print” and that digital is the only game in town? If so, you’re far from alone. When I read an online report decrying print as a decaying form of communication, I want to reach out and slap someone.

Just as the advent of television didn’t destroy the appeal of print communications, digital won’t relegate it to the junk heap either. What digital has done is force both to forge an alliance. Many marketing campaigns today feature a blend of the two, with each reinforcing the other.

That’s just common sense. As new technologies emerge, excitement leads to predictions about the demise of older, competitive types of communications. TV’s threat to print was one such episode.

While shifting advertising budgets have led to major changes and declines in some areas of print, notably newspapers that have collapsed under the weight of advertisers moving dollars to Internet-based channels, other areas are thriving.

One is direct mail. A December 2013 article carried the headline, “If Direct Mail Is Dying, It's Sure Taking Its Time About It.” The author discusses how it was a record year for catalogs. Addressing the reason for so many catalogs, the author points out, “Why do they do it in this era of e-commerce? Lots of reasons, but the short version is that direct mail, catalogs in particular, work. They’re profitable and they bring in revenue the companies can’t touch with electronic marketing alone…direct mail is not going away… The industry is still selling millions of dollars’ worth of products and services. It’s not hip and happening, not ‘now,’ but it is highly effective and very profitable.”

Another obvious area where print continues to thrive is labels and packaging. And it’s not likely to go downhill anytime soon. Imagine a scenario where products sit on shelves without any distinguishing branding. In this example consumers would make buying decisions by scanning the packages with their smart devices to gain information now printed on labels and packaging.

Do you really see manufacturers relegating their valuable branding statements to electronic-only platforms anytime soon? Of course not. But they are, and will continue, finding ways to expand the depth and breadth of information by tying those printed labels and packages to digitally-based information—a case of one form of communication reinforcing another.

The smart money is on a long-lived marriage of print and digital communications. It’s important not to summarily presume a particular group’s preferences. For example, while millennials are passionately driven to digital communications, they’re not monolithic.

A 2012 Atlantic Monthly article trumpeted, “How Do Millennials Like to Read the News? Very Much Like Their Grandparents." It reported, "Young mobile readers don't want apps and mobile browsers that look like the future. They want apps that look like the past: 58% of those under 50, and 60% of Millennials, prefer a ‘print-like experience’ over tech features like audio, video, and complex graphics.”

Given this preference, it’s not a major leap to see that print still carries weight in the marketplace. Recently, I was riding light rail and noticed a millennial, bike in tow, reading a book. I asked him why he had a print copy versus a smart device download, and he responded that the book was available online—he just wanted the actual hard copy form.

When thinking about how to best communicate with a variety of audiences across multiple demographic and psychographic profiles, look at blending print and digital to achieve maximum impact. This extends to label strategies, where the ability to include such scannable options as QR codes can greatly enhance the prospect/buyer experience.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is president of Lusky Enterprises Inc., a marketing communications and content development company. Since 2008, he has worked with Lightning Labels, a Denver-based all-digital custom label printing company, as a content developer specializing in expert advice articles. Lusky presents common-sense ideas grounded in doing what’s real and right for managing and enhancing public image.

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