Why Content Marketing Loves Print?

Why Content Marketing Loves Print?

To celebrate the upcoming launch of The Marketing Café’s new magazine Voom, we thought we’d take a look at the power of using print in your content marketing mix.

Despite claims to the contrary, it appears that reports on the death of print have been grossly over exaggerated (at least from a content marketing point of view, anyway). Whilst it’s true that the explosive growth of the Internet over the last twenty years has seen declining sales in the print based publishing industry as a whole, highly targeted niche publications are doing extremely well. In this article we’re going to look at the medium of print as a content marketing tool and explore some of its important advantages over the digital medium.

Print is the new ‘Non-Traditional Marketing’

You can tell you’re living in an age of rapid change in the marketing landscape when print is referred to as ‘non-traditional marketing’. This sentiment was expressed by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, in 2012 and it still has the power to make you sit up and think how far we’ve come. Digital hasn’t just established itself as a marketing medium; it’s already being seen as old school.

Of course, as a marketing medium print never really left us. Its usage as a marketing channel stopped declining some time ago and has now flat-lined – meaning marketers are no longer abandoning it as they once were. This shift in behaviour is looking likely to continue into the future, with the CMI predicting a surge in the print magazine as a content marketing tool in their 2015 annual survey.

Print Statistics

Before I go onto explain the unique draw of this medium, here are some interesting statistics that will help put the marketing power of print in perspective:

  • In 2013 the ABM conducted a survey that found 96% of B2B end-users use both websites and print magazines to obtain business information. When asked what sources of information they use on a weekly basis, 45% included print magazines. When asked what sources of information they used to learn about new products or supplier services 69% included print magazines.
  • Research shows that the average reader of a branded magazine will spend up to 20 to 25 minutes with it, compared to two minutes tops with web based content.
  • According to CMI’s annual research, the top three paid advertising methods used by B2B marketers to promote and distribute content in North America in 2015 are Search Engine Marketing (66%); Print or Other Offline Promotion (57%); Traditional Online Banner Ads (55%).

Whilst we’re not advocating using printed materials as your sole content marketing strategy, there is clearly something to be said for its power and influence.

But why hasn’t print as a marketing tool simply faded away in the shadow of the digital revolution? More specifically, why are customer magazines and similar formats, now witnessing a revival as a brand building strategy?

The Power of Tangibility

Perhaps the most striking thing about printed materials is that they’re tangible. That is you can touch them. The ability to physically flick through a magazine or brochure immediately puts it at an advantage over an equivalent publication online.

As well as playing to our sense of touch by putting something ‘real’ in our hands, this physicality means that a printed magazine doesn’t just disappear at the click of a mouse. Magazines, brochures and even direct mail can end up lying around the house or office for days, weeks or even months, serving as a reminder of your brand that can be rediscovered and read at a later date.

Well produced printed marketing materials can create a sense of credibility in a way that a digital publication simply cannot compete with. After all, anyone can set up a website or blog these days.

Content Marketing Unplugged

Perhaps print’s most powerful appeal of all is the space in our lives that it can fill. With so many of us spending our working lives staring at a screen, print has the ability to capture our attentions while we’re relaxing and ‘switching off’. This makes it uniquely appealing to content marketers whose modus operandi is to entertain first and sell later.

For many people the ubiquity of screens in our day to day lives – whether TV, monitor or mobile – means we often relish the chance to pick up a piece of printed media. Whether it’s relaxing with a book or a magazine, this ‘downtime’ is the perfect opportunity for marketers to satisfy a very different urge for content rather than that which we experience online. When we pick up a magazine we don’t tend to be looking for anything specific, as we might be when we search the web. Instead, we’re opening our minds and stimulating our innate curiosity by discovering ideas and concepts that we haven’t yet even considered.

For content marketers, this is surely the greatest opportunity of all.

To find out which brands are leveraging the power of print magazines in their content marketing, sign up to receive your copy of January’s Voom magazine from The Marketing Café.