So we recently started to watch “The Office” [American version]… I know, behind the times much? But, once I got over my irrational dislike for Steve Carell, I’ve actually come to really love, and in some cases relate to its characters. For those of you that haven’t seen the show, it’s a fly on the wall mockumentary, following the exploits of a regional sales office for an American paper company, Dunder Mifflin.

Throughout the series, the company finds itself battling the digital revolution; fighting for the relevance of paper in a digital world. However, watching the show, it really got me thinking about paper as a medium, and the importance of paper in the creative world. From Business cards, to brochures, leaflets, magazines and billboards, all play a part of the marketing roadmap for many businesses. As a creative agency in Manchester, it’s great to see a drive towards digital mediums in the city, but in some cases, digital doesn’t give the same emotional reaction as print.

Does digital give the same emotional reaction as print?

For example, if an artist were to sketch you a portrait on paper, and then do the same drawing using a digital device such as a tablet; is there anything lost between the two mediums? A digital image is arguably still just as tangible, yet somehow, I feel that a part of the “spirit” of the image would disappear. You can’t put a digital drawing on your wall at home to allow yourself time to subconsciously appraise it – but that doesn’t make it any less of a piece of art.

Or how about this next example? Let’s say a company created a brochure, and then decided to only share it digitally; how does that affect the way in which people interact with its content? The phrase, “out of sight, out of mind”, comes to mind. It’s my belief that printed literature certainly allows for longer brand exposure, but digital allows for a larger exposure.

I know from my own experience, a lot of the time, success comes from setting a good first impression, and then staying on the top of someone’s mind. Is a client or buyer more likely to pick-up a printed brochure while drinking a brew, than she/he is to open up a random .pdf document shared through a random email? Most likely. Print allows customers to engage with your brand in an environment of their choosing, that makes them feel safe and unpressured – It’s then the consumers choice to pick up the literature, and digest the information inside. In a lot of cases, digital forces the message down the customers throat, whether they want to listen to it or not.

Print forms a big part of the creative process, and we shouldn’t forget that. Even in this digital age, it still has a place. The sole act of printing something, allows you to control the experience of how customers interact with your brand, on a physical level. Yes, we have to manage it in a sustainable way, but we also shouldn’t shy away from it, or use it as an excuse for cutting costs. Obviously, I’m not saying to completely detract from digital; digital has its place too, but it shouldn’t replace print altogether; you have to find the balance between the two.

“Okay, but what is the balance?”

Try to think about it logically. If I’m targeting potential new customers, then draw them in with digital, and covert them with print. This way, you are getting the most value out of your creative assets, while strategically utilising brand clout at the right point in the sales process to convert the customer. We all know that print can feel like a huge cost in the conversion ROI, so that’s why we have to deploy it at the right time. There’s no point wasting resources on prospects that you’re unsure are even interested in what you have to sell, let alone giving them chapter and verse about your corporate heritage. So, qualify them first, and them allow them to experience your full brand story.

Once you’ve been doing this for a little while, you will then begin to get an idea of what your rolling print scale should be, thereby minimising the amount of wasted literature produced, and allowing you to budget more accurately. So, next time your team suggests going digital to cut print costs, take a minute to consider the big picture, and how you want your customers to interact with your brand.

My Favourite Paper:
Type: Recycled
Weight: 300gsm
Stock: Uncoated
Lamination: Spot UV

Richard leads our commercial strategy, overseeing our client management, and business operations. He has over 12 years of experience working in Marketing and Sales, on a global scale, specialising in FMCG, Sporting Goods, and Defence. He brings a big picture, common-sense approach to doing business.

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