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6 reasons we are experiencing the rebirth of the print channel


Fans of the original Ghostbusters movie (1984) may recall the character Egon Spengler’s dismissive remark that “print is dead” made whilst setting up a now vintage looking office computer. His comment embodied a growing sentiment amongst youth that the personal computer screen was the communications medium of the future.

However this wasn’t the first time print had come under pressure from more fashionable emerging technologies; Spengler’s comment was almost certainly a reference to communications theorist Marshall McLuhan, who in 1967 had coined the ´print is dead´ phrase to describe the affect the rise of television was having on the printed word.

In 2015 we are in the midst of a truly revolutionary technology, emails, blogs and a wealth of online content is dominating our everyday lives. Print once again has become viewed as a secondary, maybe even archaic medium of which organisations have ditched for a cheaper ‘more effective’ digital approach.

However quietly and almost unnoticed print has set about reinventing itself; with NFC, variable printing and specialist die cutting techniques print has never before made such an impact – so much so printed material is cool again. In fact we would go as far as saying that right now we are entering the golden age of print and here is why:

1. Print demands attention: Have you noticed how many fewer magazines, catalogues and print newsletters you are getting in the mail these days? With less mail in general, more attention is paid to each piece.

2. Trust in print: Whilst the internet provides a wealth of information to answer almost any query, it is print that regularly provides us with both inspiration and knowledge. Unlike the World Wide Web, print is inherently trustworthy, if someone has taken the time to put it to print then it is rightfully deemed worth taking seriously.

3. Print is fresh again: Digital channels like social media, websites and apps take a large slice of modern marketing budgets as organisations fight for consumer attention. A digital campaign provides a means to easily identify, profile and target consumers – but therein is the issue. Digital has become the noisy overexploited channel with experts calculating we receive a whopping 300 to 700 marketing messages each and every day. Marketers are quite rightly looking for new ways to be heard above that noise… something non-traditional, something unique… something printed!

4. Taking time out with print: We all spend too much time looking at digital screens. Everywhere we go we are bombarded by pixels from our phones, our computers, kiosks, ATMs, camera screens and eBooks. We should all value a break from that digital world and more and more people are opting to return to print as a way to unplug and unwind.

5. Print excites the senses: It’s a nice feeling flicking through a well finished printed document. The colours are vibrant, the smell of the paper and the touch of the page, not to mention the excitement thumbing through a catalogue can stir up in a consumer. Other channels just cannot compete on so many levels or represent an organisation with the same impact as a well finished piece of modern print.

6. Print has longevity: A printed brochure or catalogue has one big advantage over its digital counterpart. Digital marketing disappears at the speed of a click, and as the old saying goes out of sight out of mind. A beautifully designed printed document is something to be treasured and can hang around on a coffee table or desk for months or even years.

In conclusion, history has a way of repeating itself; next year sees the release of a new look Ghostbusters movie and 30 years on Egon Spengler’s remark “print is dead” wouldn’t on the face of it seem out of place, but right now in 2015 we could just be witnessing the golden age of the print channel.

Direct Approach has eighteen years of experience in the print, design and mailing of catalogues, brochures and advertising. We are now able to use our understanding of both print and direct marketing to digitally print campaigns with variable text targeted at specific segments of customer lists – as with the die cut promotional magazine wrap we produced recently for William Reed Business Media. To view this and our other recent print designs please take a look at our portfolio here.