Is Print Marketing Dead in Distribution?

Submitted by: Joan MacKenzie 01/09/2012

In an increasingly digital world, companies across industries are challenged to figure out the role print marketing will play in their businesses, and how to merge those efforts with the digital world.

November 16, 2011

By  Lindsay  Konzak 

Description: http://servedby.epublishing.net/m3/www/delivery/lg.php?bannerid=9434&campaignid=3401&zoneid=1426&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mdm.com%2Fdistribution-sales-marketing%2F2011%2F11%2F16%2Fis-print-marketing-dead-in-distribution%2FPARAMS%2Fpost%2F28008&cb=611addd108In an increasingly digital world, companies across industries are challenged to figure out the role print marketing will play in their businesses, and how to merge those efforts with the digital world. For example, MDM has significantly built out its website mdm.com in the past five years, but we retain the print version of our premium newsletter because there are times when our subscribers prefer that medium – on an airplane, for example.

The same applies to print catalogs and distribution. In a recent survey with Real Results Marketing, we found that nearly half of distributor respondents viewed print as alive and well as a sales and marketing medium for their products. While the other half of survey respondents said they view print catalogs as dead or dying as a medium to reach customers, many still acknowledged there was a role – albeit a different one – catalogs could continue to play. (Read: The State of Distributor Catalog Marketing)

“(Print) is declining. The Web has so much information that fliers and catalogs have limited effectiveness,” wrote one survey respondent. “But a catalog is a good tool to make a presentation on your company and show people what you have. It creates legitimacy.”

Jonathan Bein, who led the survey of MDM’s readers on the use of catalogs, wrote in the recent issue of MDM Premium that the “print-is-dead” mantra began when e-commerce started to emerge in the late 1990s. Many companies abandoned print at this time.

Of course, many have backtracked on that decision. “Lots of distributors thought e-commerce would end print catalogs,” wrote one survey respondent. “Successful distributors who consistently used print and then stopped because they adopted e-commerce have resurrected their print catalogs. Web and print are not mutually exclusive marketing media. They are definitely synergistic. E-commerce evolved much faster in B2C and successful retailers never abandoned their print media.”

Agreed. In fact in the recent survey, 65 percent of distributors said they still view catalogs as an effective marketing channel.

Aside from the fact that some buyers just don’t want to go online, Bein says that buyers use catalogs when comparing multiple distributors and even when they are online as an easy reference. Bein contends that distributors that phase out the use of print marketing tools such as catalogs are missing out on a competitive advantage – especially if those tools are used in collaboration with e-commerce programs.

The bottom line, according to one survey respondent: “Not dead, but changing. In our industry a balance will be needed.”