When my special needs son and I started a small guitar shop a few years ago, we had no clue how to run a business, let alone build a brand. My son has severe autism, but he likes music and working with tools, so guitar repair seemed like a good fit. I’d been playing and tinkering since I was a teenager, and there were plenty of instruments around our house.
We assembled a basic website, but it didn’t come together until a designer friend supplied us with a couple of company logos. Hey, we had a look! A feel! A vibe! This was, like, a real business!
We put our logo on business cards, t-shirts, and — most importantly — guitar picks. Now we had something tangible — something useful — to give away to potential clients. They might not be ready to buy a guitar right now, but when they were, our guitar pick would be tucked between their fingers as a reminder.
Seeing our logo transition from a digital image to real-life swag was a thrill for both my son and I.
It was also our first fledgling steps into branding and the power of print.
There’s a continuous through-line that runs from e-commerce to the physical world and print branding is your gateway to unified customer experience.
Branding is about much more than a corporate logo. It’s your company’s overall aesthetic, the choice of colors, backgrounds, and overall design. Are you presenting a buttoned up corporate image, or a fun-loving freewheeling brand? Branding immediately identifies these things without having to say a word. Spreading a consistent look, feel, and message across advertising mediums is how brands are built.
And print branding is the cornerstone of it all.
When it comes to making a lasting impression on potential clients or customers, print is still king.
A joint study between the US Postal Service and Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making found people have a stronger emotional response to print media. Participants spent more time with print ads compared to digital ads. In fact, most found digital advertising annoying and disruptive to their web browsing experience.
But print ads, by comparison, offered a multisensory experience — the feel and crinkle of paper, the sound of turning pages. As a result, physical advertisements left a longer lasting impression. People remember print media...especially company logos!
Being a top-of-funnel medium, print is key to boosting brand visibility and brand awareness. Print offers a unique level of customer engagement. Studies show that it takes 21% less cognitive resources to grasp information in print compared to digital. It’s simply easier to convey information in print. Yes, it’s the digital age we are living in now, but we still need paper too.
Consumers intrinsically trust print ads more than other forms of advertising. In a survey conducted by Marketing Sherpa on customer trust, print ads landed the top spot with an impressive 82%! In fact, consumers remember the brand name 70% better if they see it on a print ad (75%) compared to digital ads (44%), and 79% of consumers find reading physical mail more convenient than reading emails.
People enjoy the tactile experience of viewing and handling physical media. They want to browse ads, grip crinkly pages, and feel paper texture. Print engages all five senses, which means five unique ways to connect with customers.
Direct mail may seem like a dinosaur in the age of digital marketing, but putting a physical coupon or offer in someone’s hand is still one of the best ways to interact one-on-one with clients and spread brand awareness. The key to a successful direct mail campaign is a carefully curated and tightly targeted mail list.
Half of US consumers prefer direct mail over email. Direct mail open rates are between 80-90% compared to 20-30% email open rates. Overall, direct mail outperforms digital marketing channels by around 600%, and it is 20% more likely to motivate consumers to take action compared to digital media. Most people feel direct mail is more personal than digital.
The power of print spans generations. Studies show that 88% of millennials believe print is more official than digital. Print holds a special place in the hearts of Generation Z. Sure, you’d expect your print campaign to connect with an older demographic. But younger consumers trust print as well.
The old adage when it comes to direct mail is the 40/40/20 Rule. Forty percent of your success depends on getting your offer into the right hands. Another forty percent of your success comes from the offer itself — is it compelling enough to make customers act? The final twenty percent depends on the sales copy, mailer design, and a variety of other factors.
The bottom line is this: The look of your direct mail isn’t as important as making the right offer to the right client. Design is less important than carefully targeting your mailing list. With a targeted list all you need to have for running effective direct mail campaigns is a working printer and a couple of toners (which you can also easily sell back anytime you wish). As for the design, with the help of Canva and other free options you can get your designs done in a blink of an eye.
Direct mail may sound like a lot of work but in fact, it’s quite easily accessible to any business, yet many still overlook it thinking that the time of print is long gone and everything is about digital now.
However, the numbers show the opposite:
That being said, writing a great sales letter is a true art. Don’t underestimate the power of good copywriting. The best sales letters are short and personal — under a page. Craft a killer first paragraph and make the rest of your letter easy to read with boxes, bullets, and bold type. Make your offer and repeat it. Urge readers to “act now” — add a sense of urgency.
Even more important is your call to action. Does your mailer offer an amazing discount or an unprecedented level of savings? It should. In order for your direct mail campaign to be successful, it should target a very specific audience with a very specific offer.
Before committing to a full mail campaign, consider testing your mailer on 10-20 percent of your target audience. Use internal codes on your direct mail to track the effectiveness of your campaign. This gives you a chance to tweak your direct mail for optimum results.
Print takes your branding to the next level by targeting your clients’ specific needs and discovering new ways to engage, stay connected, outperform competitors, and stay ahead of trends. While today’s data-driven world allows us to tailor customer experiences like never before, it’s also easy to lose the human connection. The key is using modern technology to support the classic branding concepts of building consumer trust, offering quality goods and services, and giving back to the community.
Everybody loves shopping and browsing for products online. But when it comes time to plunk down the credit card and make a purchase, not everyone trusts online brands, especially brands they aren’t unfamiliar with. That’s where print marketing can take your branding campaign to the next level — converting leads into lifelong customers.