Getting emotional with print marketing

We are living in an era when consumers are increasingly prioritizing 'experiences' over 'things', a trend that poses new challenges for marketers, whose success is likely to be defined by simple commercial metrics such as product sales and market share. But this preference for experience is a valuable prompt for brands to remember that consumers are humans, with real emotions and a craving for personal interaction and engagement.

It’s one of the reasons for the sustained interest in contemporary, interactive marketing devices like virtual and augmented reality, which promise new ways to connect with consumers, bringing them up close and personal with products and creating immersive, multi-sensory brand experiences. Interactivity certainly adds an interesting and potentially effective dimension to marketing, but perhaps it’s simply a 21st century expression of a much older marketing truth: emotion sells.

”Individuals are seven times more likely to purchase more when they have a positive emotional association with a specific brand.”

This isn’t just an empty marketing catchphrase. In fact, individuals are seven times more likely to purchase more when they have a positive emotional association with a specific brand, and advertising campaigns with purely emotional content perform twice as well as those with only rational content.

Most marketing professionals instinctively understand this, but the message may have been clouded by a decade of digital ‘marketing by numbers’ with its obsession with immediacy and measurability, and the assumption that more conventional marketing channels, such as print, provide less calculable metrics.

In fact, in a world where consumers are overwhelmed by marketing channels and messages, the tactile power of print, combined with intelligent personalization founded on real customer insight, may be precisely what’s needed to overcome digital overload and trigger emotional responses to brands.

Print is memorable

While digital content is processed faster, consumers spend more time with physical marketing materials such as printed publications, magazines, catalogs and direct mail, and individuals are able to recall them more vividly. The very act of touching a physical piece of print while looking at it – what scientists call ‘haptic communication’ – leaves a deeper footprint in the brain, producing an increased emotional response.

Studies by the United States Postal Service revealed that “Greater emotional processing is facilitated by the physical material than by the virtual. The ‘real’ experience that the physical media provides means it’s better at becoming part of memory.” Essentially, the deeper in the mind the material goes, the more mental processing it requires, making it seem more real, leading to a more positive emotional response.

Engaging the senses

As a sensory marketing tool, print can trump digital too, thanks to its ability to trigger emotions using touch, sight and smell, overlaid with individualized messages and delivered when consumers are most receptive. This trio of senses may be all-important in increasing marketing effectiveness; consider research commissioned by branding expert Martin Lindstrom, which shows that media that appeal to more than three senses can increase brand impact and engagement by more than 70 percent.

Media that appeal to more than three senses can increase brand impact and engagement by more than 70 percent.

These sensory qualities make print marketing a powerful way to tell a brand story, especially when used in careful combination with other platforms to build a seamless omni-channel experience. As part of a considered marketing journey, print’s ability to stimulate an emotional response can play a critical, measurable role in driving purchase, while building lasting brand affinity.

Real-time print

Good marketeers understand print’s persuasive combination of imagery, message and delivery, but are also under pressure to minimize time to market for campaign materials. Inevitably, this emphasis on immediacy has tended to work in digital marketing’s favor. Long-standing assumptions about print production timelines mean that many marketers have de-prioritized print in the marketing mix, because they believe it cannot be turned around quickly enough.

However, with the latest ‘programmatic print’ techniques, powered by digital printing on demand and sophisticated campaign automation, print marketing can be real-time, with targeted, individualized direct mailings compiled, printed and distributed within a 48-hour time frame. Marketers can finally combine the advantages of algorithmically driven digital campaigns that send consumers relevant messages at predetermined trigger points, with the greater impact of personalized print.

Consumers are individuals

Each and every one of us is a consumer, with our own preferences regarding channels of communication, and is receptive to marketing messages at different times. Brand owners that adapt their promotional efforts to recognize this individuality – for example by using intelligent, individualized print in tandem with digital marketing – are more likely to achieve the desired emotional connection and ensure that the customer remains receptive to further marketing communication.

Consumers are happy when they feel appreciated as individuals, and brands can channel this by using their rich data to deliver marketing materials that make customers feel individually understood and valued. The happier a customer is, the more likely they are to be loyal and perhaps even become a positive brand advocate.


3 Reasons Millennials Prefer Print Media

Born somewhere between 1981 and 1996, millennial’s are a complex and famously hard to define generation. Common traits include being civic-minded, unconventional, digitally savvy, and, more often than not, overcommitted. Based on those traits, one might assume that these 22-38 year-olds prefer watching snippets of the latest national and global news, but, according to recent research by the Pew Research Center, that may not the case. 42% of the people surveyed between the ages of 18 and 29 prefer reading the news than watching it or listening to it. To take that one step further, in 2015, Naomi Baron, a professor of linguistics at American University, surveyed over 300 university students around the globe and found that 92% prefer reading print material over smartphone, tablet, e-reader, or laptop. Why is that? The reasons millennials prefer print news have a lot to do with the fact they were born just before the dawn of the internet.

1. Nostalgia

Unlike the generation that follows them (Gen Z), who have had access to the internet since childhood, many millennials grew up with more traditional forms of media. As a result, they have a soft spot for reading, what professor and author Naomi Baron refers to as the “physical, tactile, kinesthetic component to reading.”

2. Information overload

In today’s world, people are inundated with information on a daily basis. That’s particularly true for younger generations, who have adapted to evolving technologies. While convenient, the pace of digital news can be overwhelming, which is why it can be a relief to slow down and read an article in a magazine.

3. An escape from distractions

When you consume news on a digital device, it is easy to be distracted by pop-ups, social media, texts, and emails. Reading a hard copy of the news allows you to focus on the information you’re consuming.

Help millennials unwind and stay up-to-date on the latest news by continuing to print magazines.


Pew Research, Younger Adults More Likely Than Their Elders to Prefer Reading News
New Republic, Naomi Baron's Words Onscreen Fate Reading Digital World
Forbes, Millenials - A Generation of Page Turners

5 Ways Magazine Publishers Can Maximize Postal Savings

By: D. Eadward Tree

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A big party I recently attended illustrates a principle behind what I’ve consistently found to be the greatest source of waste, the greatest source of potential cost savings, and the biggest differentiator between competing printing proposals for all but the smallest-circulation magazines.

And because of likely regulatory changes, new opportunities for postal savings (or waste) are likely to arise, even for publishers that already have their houses in order.

As we entered the celebration, my companions and I were directed to a row of tables to pick up our preprinted, must-be-worn nametags. We acted on instinct: Ms. Bush veered to the left toward the beginning of the alphabet, Ms. Leaf headed straight toward the middle, and I bore right toward the end of the alphabet.

It’s then we discovered why so many people were milling about and calling out to each other: The 300 nametags were placed on the tables in random order.

The simple solution, of course, would have been to presort the digital list of attendees in alphabetical order before printing the nametags. In the same way, it’s much easier for a publisher to presort its mailing list so that addressed copies can be grouped by metropolitan area, ZIP code, and letter-carrier route than it is for the U.S. Postal Service to sort through randomly addressed magazines.

When the postal presort process works well, most copies end up in bundles that contain at least six copies for the same carrier route. If the printer has enough volume and a strong transportation network, most such carrier-route bundles are placed on pallets and dropshipped to a USPS facility close to the final delivery addresses. Freight and handling are minimal for the Postal Service, except for the letter carrier who opens a bundle, sequences the copies with her other mail, and delivers them.

USPS rates and discounts reward such efficiency, charging only about 25 cents to deliver each half-pound (about 140-page) magazine under this scenario.

But for a nationwide mailing list of only a few thousand addresses, most copies end up in sacks (the Postal Service hates sacks), are handed off to the USPS far from their final destination, and go through multiple handlings before being delivered. The postage for that same140-page magazine under this scenario could cost 65 cents.

Contrary to what some critics have charged, the deck is not stacked against small-circulation publications. Printers often use co-mail or other mail-consolidation techniques to combine multiple publications into one large, efficient mailing. And larger publications often have multiple versions that can split their mailing into numerous small, inefficient lists.

The Postal Regulatory Commission’s recent proposal to bail out the Postal Service with additional rate increases is likely to be challenged in court. (See USPS Bail Out Could Hike Postal Rates 41% in Next Five Years.) But one part of the proposal makes perfect sense -- forcing the Postal Service to provide rate discounts more in line with its resulting cost savings.

The incentive to move copies into carrier-route bundles would increase by at least 25%, perhaps moving add-a-name from an exotic tactic to the mainstream. Enhanced discounts would up the ante for printers, perhaps leading to better dropshipping or more multi-title firm bundles.

Here’s a guide to getting the maximum savings out of your postal presort and to being prepared for the coming regulatory changes:

  1. Be choosy about printers: Unless postage is less than 25% of your production costs or your audience is geographically concentrated in one area, use a printer that produces enough magazines to offer mail consolidation and an extensive dropshipping network. A less specialized printer can’t save you enough on printing to make up for the lost postage discounts.
  2. Make postage part of any printing negotiation: Give the competing printers a copy of your mailing list (under a non-disclosure agreement) and see what kind of postal savings they project or will even guarantee. Not all presort tactics or co-mail programs are the same, and in some cases such alternatives as selective binding may work better.
  3. Combine all your address sources: Some publishers have multiple address lists – e.g. subscribers, advertisers, VIPs, and hair salons. Unless one of these groups gets a distinct edition, present them to the printer as a single list, even if they’re going to be co-mailed. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying the printer for some false savings – savings that you could have achieved on your own just by consolidating your mailing list.
  4. Optimize your versions: I once worked with a title that had more than 40 different versions because of regional and demographic sections. Some versions -- such as the one for women in Southern California who got a “last-copy” cover wrap -- were sent to a fraction of 1% of the entire mailing. A few simple rules -- such as creating only one edition for each cover wrap -- cut the number of versions by more than half, generated huge postal savings.
  5. Press for creative solutions: The 10-cent postage reduction for each copy moved into a carrier-route bundle, plus the benefits of dropshipping, are so great that printers often stop there. But if you often mail multiple copies to the same address (as happens for many trade publications), firm bundling can yield significant savings even if it means pulling some copies out of co-mail. With add-a-name, carrier routes with exactly five copies get an additional copy, resulting in a lower postage bill despite mailing more copies. With a bit more work, large co-mail pools may be able to achieve more savings from high-density carrier routes and from dropshipping to USPS delivery units.