April 2020 I Written exclusively for Ricoh by Nina Lukina, Square Root Creative
Shifting difficulty into opportunity
- Print has the potential to project a personal, human element into the virtual reality that many of us are now inhabiting.
- With its quick turnaround times and capabilities of personalisation, digital print in particular is expected to maintain consumer engagement at a time when in-person communication is difficult during this time.
Reaching people through print is timeless
- Restrictions on “real world” interactions are causing businesses to look for alternative ways to get customers’ attention.
- Many retailers are looking to replace foot traffic and reroute consumers to their online stores. Other nonessential businesses have been forced to close entirely.
- Due to conferences, tradeshows and in-person sales calls being postponed/cancelled, marketers who sell to other businesses find their calendars empty.
- People are at home: many are working virtually and keeping an eye on their digital news feeds. This is a good time to remember that print is a timeless means of reaching people.
- Tangible assets grab attention in an all-digital world — and they can close the gaps in demand that closures are causing.
Print and digital
- Not suggesting the print and digital marketing are competing, in fact they strengthen the other.
- Advances in digital technology have made a broad variety of printing options accessible and affordable and has made it possible to personalize prints according to each individual.
- Print invites website traffic, increases brand-awareness and offers enhanced interactive experiences. The most successful marketers use print and digital in symbiotic fashion.
As stores temporarily close, reduce occupant capacity or move online, personalized direct mail and catalogs offer a way to make up for lowered revenues.
- The NAPCO study ‘Personalization and Digital Printing: Retail Marketers’ Secret Weapon”1 discovered that retailers who use digital print to send customers relevant offers see an increase in both brand awareness and consumer engagement.
- The report goes further, “print and online marketing channels are complementary” and recommends that marketers “segment customer data (e.g., purchase history, browsing history, abandoned carts, engagement with other marketing channels, etc.) so that it can be used as part of a personalized digital printing campaign.”
- The NAPCO report quotes Jaime Garcia, a marketing manager at HBC Financial: “When we do mailings, we see a definitive uptick in loans as well as an uptick in digital activity — for example, visits to the website. We can clearly measure the response when we do print mailings.”
Personalisation = engagement
- Digital printing has made catalogues more affordable, so it is a good time to try them out now.
- With the flexibility and high speed of digital print, you can get a direct mail piece or catalogue into mailboxes in a matter of days.
- The power of personalization in print should not be underestimated: catalogues that include custom offers based on a particular consumer’s interests or purchase history consistently drive higher sales than do non-personalized mailings.
Achieving business prospects
- In-person interactions are not a possibility for most of us right now. That includes trade shows, conferences and smaller events.
- Use digital print to fill the gap and give your prospects personal attention.
- Drawing on your database of contacts, you can segment and personalize mailings to replace some of the excitement lacking in the age of limited face-to-face meetings.
- Send a print invitation to a webinar, a note encouraging the recipient to check out an offering on your website or simply a greeting with a thoughtful message.
- Consider repurposing your event gear.
- Many marketers now also find themselves with a pile of swag or booth designs for a conference that’s been cancelled.
- Retool your designs to create an eye-catching piece of mail that will add variety to someone’s day.
- Offer swag as an incentive for an action, or just mail it to your contacts to strengthen your relationship and keep your brand.
- Classes at all levels have gone virtual or been put on hold. Online learning can be challenging for students and instructors alike.
- If you work in the education sector, offer instructors and students print materials to accompany their courses and make remote learning a more interactive experience.
- You can also send a newsletter or postcard to keep parents, students and educators in the know and connected in the months ahead.
- Offer something new — augmented reality.
- Even with all the entertainment and communication afforded by the internet, staying at home and social distancing are leading to a widespread sense of monotony and loneliness.
- Augmented reality (AR) offers a way to mix things up.
- AR entails adding a trigger, visible or not, onto printed materials; when consumers hold their mobile devices to the piece of print, more content is revealed.
- “Augmenting Print: How AR Can Help Print Providers Succeed,” by Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends gives a detailed explanation and examples of how AR is being used today to engage consumers while also collecting useful data from them.
- The article explains, “instead of a static document that simply relays information from the brand to the consumer, it can be a portal of interaction and continued engagement.”
- Consider using AR to give your contacts a memorable experience that will build brand loyalty — it’s also proven to be a popular tool in educational settings.
Ultimately, printing strengthens brands: including yours. Print, in short, is a way to keep your business visible. Use it to remind customers that you’re up and running or ready to service them once normal operations resume. While this is a strange and slowed time for organizations everywhere, it does not have to be a fallow period. Remember that brand awareness has always been an ongoing effort. An attentive audience is waiting for you.