In an era of exponential growth in online advertising and electronic delivery methods, print media can end up in the back of the pack of options that deliver marketing impressions and advertising messages. Although new methods capture public attention, print publications retain the ability to offer unique advantages that can make them a first choice. At the same time, they present counterbalancing disadvantages, some lasting and some new by comparison to equally new alternatives.
A single magazine, newspaper, brochure or sell sheet can pass through numerous sets of hands and carry a message far beyond the person who buys a publication or requests company information. Until that piece of paper lands in the recycling bin, it continues to offer the prospect of serving up a defining influence on attitudes and buying behavior. That same ability to captivate an individual's attention can become a drawback, however, if the printed material that carries your message doesn't end up in the hands of the people you want to influence.
Print media convey tangible presentations that can remain viable for days, months and even years, provided that someone retains a printed page and refers to it. Distributed through an electronic medium, the same message vanishes as soon as the TV spot ends or the Internet visitor moves on to another website. That lasting upside offers a downside as well, in that print media offer no potential for updates and upgrades other than to print and distribute a revised ad or brochure. The reader of a printed piece engages more fully with the material than the easily distracted online visitor, however, and print's enduring nature contributes to its status as a trusted source of information.
Other than the need to exert control over the subtleties of color reproduction and the output characteristics of specific types of paper, print media offer exacting control over the appearance of advertising, marketing, educational or informational materials. Every nuance of typography, graphics, color selections and design contributes to a presentation that meets the expectations and evaluative criteria of the people who convey the message. Other media offer potentially less control over these criteria. Online messages can be subject to browser and operating-system variations, while broadcast advertising looks and sounds only as good as the limits of the technology that presents it.
Print material can offer real value to the advertiser or marketer who wants to target an audience that matches up well with the demographics of the readership of a specific publication. Online advertising may charge a smaller price for each incremental point of contact -- a click-through or response -- but the rate of actual engagement may not rise to the standards that print media can deliver. Narrowing the range of publication to a regional edition of a national magazine can combine the influential vehicle of a trusted publication with the targeted reach that accesses a specific audience. Direct mail can reach an equally targeted audience with a cost-effective message. Whatever the rate of return, however, each printed message costs money to deliver.