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Value of Printed Communications - Weighing the Cost:Benefit

Effectiveness vs. efficiency in printed marcom balances cost, sustainability and impact

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Print and Marketing Communications

I have a long background in graphic design and creative direction. I spent many years working in print shops, design and marketing agencies. And now I do a lot of Internet communicating... like this website.

How does PRINT fit into your green marketing agenda? I have a few thoughts on that.

Times have changed. The Internet platforms -- with web, email, social networking and video-on-demand -- turned marketing communications from an outbound communications medium to an "attraction" and "social" model.

Internet Search Strategies

Search engines can find ANYTHING on the Web -- to some degree. You might have to look through 50 pages of search results, but you can find any company, any product, any problem and solution.

But who has that kind of time?

If your easter egg isn't on the first page or two of Google or Yahoo, you give up and pick up the phone. I know, I get some of those calls (and I'm delighted to get then, by the way -- so call!)

New Roles for Print

But printed communications still play a role. I discovered a website by accident -- I didn't search for it -- about the "Value of Print". It's sponsored by Kodak, okay -- so there might be some skewing of research results, but even taking that into account, there are some interesting metrics for your marketing campaigns.

Greening Your Marketing Strategy

But before I relay a few of those startling stats, let me review some of the high points of "green marketing" that can be part of your discovery process.

  • High efficiency reduces the amount of paper, printing, transportation, and frustration created by a campaign.
  • Some papers are eco-friendlier than others.
  • Direct mail still has a place -- not everyone lives on the computer.
  • Cleaning your mailing database can be step one of a green marketing strategy.

Color and Finishing Strategies for Print

So, now that we have that cleared up, let's talk color.

Color offset or web printing for broadbased marketing is almost as efficient as one-color printing these days. Most printing presses are at least two-color, if not six. Plates and prep take very little additional time, materials or manpower for the results received.

However, fancy finishing techniques are where you get into VOCs, additional material, additional shipping and distribution, and a lot more cost. There's a much lower efficiency rating for most over-the-top, flamboyant "seventeen color reverse out" designs, as I used to like to call them.

Digital Printing Features and Benefits

Digital printing has brought as much revolutionary change to the marcom industry as the Internet has brought to snail mail.

Personalized Mailings

According to an InfoTrends study, 63% of csonsuemrs prefer perfonalized statements that contain relevant offers within the statement to advertising inserts. That's PERSONALIZATION that has been revolutionized by database + digital printing.

Personalization increases repeat orders by 47%. And repeat orders are efficient -- they require less mail, less manpower, and less marketing dollars. Those dollars can go into offsetting the green innovation premium companies seem to think they need to charge for green products!

But I digress...

Personalized response rates improved 36%.

Response time increased 34%

Overall revenues and profits increased by over 30%

Those are some impressive benefits of personalized print communications.

Color in Print

Color is King. In fact, according to an InfoTrends study more than 60% of buying decisions are based on color.
  • Color reduces search time by as much as 80%
  • Payment response for invoices produced in color improves by almost 30%
  • Color emphasizes important points and increases retention by 82%
  • Color improves brand recognition by up to 80%

We know that colorful web pages with color photographs or video beat the socks off of dull black and white pages. But many business leaders don't think about color's impact on print very often. Mostly because MOST printing these days is in color. Again, it doesn't take much more ink or paper to print color ... it just takes more design time. And the results far exceed the additional impact -- so you can print fewer pieces and save on overall cost with effectiveness over efficiency.

For more excellent overviews of what works with print, check out the Print Ambassador.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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