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Print vs. Digital: Which is Best?


Print media is often neglected these days as a less important part of branding and marketing. With tighter budgets and deadlines I can see why it is falling by the wayside, in favour of shiny new interactive media, but I still think it has great value. Henry Jenkins, celebrated author on the topic, writes about the interaction of what he refers to as old media and new media in Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. Having read this recently, whilst studying, it made me consider this interaction right here, right now and how it affects my work as an account manager in a digital and marketing agency.

In my opinion old and new media work hand in hand and need each other to give the consumer the full experience. Below are some points on why both print and digital work and why they need each other.

  • Ownership – when you either purchase or pick up free printed marketing, whether it be a newspaper, ‘zine or flyer, it’s yours to keep. You can keep it for reference as long as you want to. Consumers also take ownership of digital marketing/publications through blogging, sharing etc. A digital ‘share’ could equate to someone picking up a business card/flyer. Consumers are now tech savvy and know a variety of ways to retain the information they have engaged with.
  • Tactility – our senses are finely tuned tools. The way we interact with printed media is hugely important, the look and feel needs to engage the consumer so they take ownership of it – design is key to this engagement. Where digital hasn’t got that tactility it can overcome it with styling and impressive usability. When both approaches are implemented a consumer will feel secure using a product/service and potentially keep using it and recommend to other consumers.
  • Time constraints – digital marketing can be reached whenever, wherever and also published at any time so there are no time constraints other than making sure there is up-to-date, relevant copy. Print media suffers due to the time it takes to produce, as it isn’t as instant as a blog, for example, or indeed editable once produced. Print’s considered approach helps to support digital marketing, a broad message that won’t date easily is best for print whereas digital can portray a message that is right up-to-date.
  • Interactivity – digital formats have a lot of interactivity, including sharing to social media which has a potentially global reach. ‘Liking’ on social media platforms creates a web, which keeps growing, of more and more users that can interact with your product/business. Print can do this with a local approach. The physical sharing of print media can create a link to the digital which, as discussed earlier, can create a comfort zone for the consumer.
  • Analytics and tracking – there are now many tools available to keep track of what the consumers looking at your brand are interacting with and how they interact with products/marketing. Digital analytics are thought to be more in-depth than print analytics but both can provide crucial information. Analysing print marketing reach provides a more personal approach – how many flyers were handed out? How many codes from those flyers transferred to sales? Voucher codes and QR codes can provide valuable data and a link to digital marketing. Analysing digital reach can show what time your customers are engaging with your business so you can pinpoint when to release new products etc.
  • Feedback – it’s easier for consumers to give feedback in the digital age. Whether this be through feedback forms, email, message boards etc. Knowing what your customers want is invaluable to any business. With print media it is harder to gain solid feedback from a consumer but a large part of the feedback will be through the engagement, did consumers engage well or not?

Through both print and digital a well-rounded marketing campaign can be achieved giving the consumer the safety and desire to engage with your business. Having both ensures you are reaching the maximum amount of consumers. As long as branding is consistent throughout all communications new and old media have their relevant place in a marketing strategy.

If you’d like to chat to us about how you can integrate your on and offline marketing, just give us a call 0161 941 5330.