Print: The New Vinyl?
I've been banging on about this for years, but I'm finally seeing it happen: print seems to be making a comeback! In the 20 years since we launched the business, there's (unsurprisingly) been a steady progression in our work from printed comms to digital. But in the last year, the pendulum has begun swinging the other way: almost all our new business has been in print.
It's because our clients are starting to appreciate that if you put a document into somebody's hands, they're not only more likely to actually notice it, but also more likely to take the time to read it. Late last year, Freeport Press in the US conducted a survey comparing readers of printed v digital magazines. It clearly concluded that 'we read more, read longer and subscribe more often to print than digital.' Put another way, we engage more with print than digital.
You knew this already, though. It's obvious, because you're already in the habit of skipping through overloaded inboxes and competing social media channels, grabbing little snippets on the run.
Bizarrely, for a (relatively!) old hand like myself, there's also novelty value in print for younger recipients - for the same reasons as vinyl and Polaroid cameras have made a comeback. They haven't grown up with physical junk mail - they get a little kick when they have something real in their hands; it has added value. It breaks through the digital clutter and stimulates other senses: paper feels, sounds, looks, even smells different - particularly if we get creative with materials and finishes.
But print now isn't the same as it was. It's used differently, and it's produced differently. First off, it's now a supplement to digital comms, less likely to be a standalone. So it can be more concise in its content; grabbing attention before directing readers online if they need more detail. Less bulk also has the added advantage of 'cheaper to produce.'
It's also more targeted than previously. We're seeing much shorter print runs and audience-specific content. This has been enabled by the shift from litho to digital print, but driven by online profiling - which does the initial hard work of sifting and categorising recipients, before print steps in to close the deal. Again, shorter print runs make it more affordable.
I'm hoping, really hoping, that the resurgence in print is indicative of a wider trend: the resurgence of creativity. Because in an environment where all of us are overloaded with content which is cheaply produced and disseminated, the challenge must now be about how to make your communication stand out from the crowd.
Creativity and print. Now there's a marriage made in heaven.