Isn’t printing a bit old school? I mean we have new media today that allows us to communicate with almost anyone anywhere at any time. Why would we print? Not only that, but isn’t printing bad for the environment? That’s what many of us think, but we are wrong on all counts.
Here’s a question: Has printing evolved to become the most ecologically responsible of all media?
Let’s look at a few facts and see what we get. Thanks to the efforts of many who are concerned about the environment and who have devoted years to the subject, the printing industry is now one of the few media that can claim to use recoverable, recyclable and renewable resources. In North America, for every tree that the industry uses, it plants three more. The North American forest products industry now plants 1.5 BILLION TREES PER YEAR. That’s 4.1 million every day. The industry has become agriculture. Trees are grown and harvested for use, just like any other crop. According to the Mother Nature Network there are more trees in America today than there were 100 years ago.
So, how did this happen? For many years now, almost every company/organization involved in the printing/forest industries has been focusing on how to improve the environment. In our own company alone, every year as part of our certification, we are audited by Rainforest Alliance to the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) standards. FSC provides internationally recognized standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies, organizations and communities interested in responsible forestry.
Now, let’s have a look at that so called, “environmentally clean” “electronic/digital” media. This media functions on the use of monitors, hard drives, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc., all of them primarily non-recyclable carbon based products. Where does this stuff go once we throw it away? In most communities, it is dumped into landfills or is burned emitting toxic chemicals into the air. It even has a name, High Tech Trash. Where do we obtain the material to make more of these devices? Why, we use more fossil fuels of course.
Guiyu in China’s Guangdong Province is the world’s largest electronic waste site, with an estimated 80% of its 150,000 population working in the e-waste processing business. Source.
We can ignore the facts and listen to the misinformed, but the reality is that every time we buy a new electronic media device, we are contributing to more pollution. In addition, each time we use one of these devices, more energy is required. When viewed, printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint and that occurs at its point of manufacture. The other media require energy every time they are used. The more they are used, then the more energy we must produce. In North America, over 50% of energy is generated from fossil fuel sources. This is not a good ecological situation. Many studies continue to be focused on these issues. Some examples are: the UN News Centre, the Environmental Literacy Council, the It Environment Initiative and many more.
In our company, our multimedia division loves our digital projects, web sites, mobile apps etc., but not because we are under the misguided belief that we are helping the environment. As to which media is more ecologically friendly, we might want to give that some more thought.
Okay, so if printing has a much better environmental record than we were led to believe, how about marketing results? What does print have to offer? According to the Winterberry Group, Direct Marketing mailings grew at a 5.6% rate to $163 billion (USA) in 2011 generating nearly $2 trillion in sales. The ROI on this was $12.00 of sales per dollar of advertising expense versus $5.24 for general advertising. Target Marketing’s 2012 Media Usage Forecast states that 69% of marketers will use Direct Mail for acquisition in 2012. In June, 2012, The Atlantic Monthly Group reported that the print medium is still capturing 25% of the total USA ad spend dollars. Printing and Direct Mail lives and is doing very well, thank you.
The next questions must be: If printing is doing so well, is environmentally positive and is used by so many, how can you use print effectively in your marketing efforts? We reviewed some facts and methods in our communications of May 11, 23 and June 11, 2012. The subjects were Initial Contacts, QR Codes and PURLs. Essentially, printed material is a very effective doorway to your other media connections.
You do remember ME, right? Then you would remember that ME controls the conversation now and ME wants a relevant conversation. In addition, ME controls the method of contact. You must obtain permission to talk to ME with one consistent exception – Mail. Yes, ME will accept your attempt to communicate with them through the mail. It is not considered intrusive and unlike every other method of communication, ME will accept that you did not have permission to do so. Now, if you do not communicate with something that resonates with ME, then you will be ignored and your message will move to the recycle bin and turned into who knows what, napkins perhaps. I do this all the time.
“You had me at hello.” A great line in a pretty good movie, but how often does this happen in real life? Not too often. ME wants more than “hello” and you want to form a business relationship with ME. Next we will have a look at good Direct Mail practices.
Next week: How will Direct Mail get to ME?
There was a time, not too long ago, when a certain credit card company used the following line in their advertising: “Don’t leave home without it.” Of course, they were saying, take us with you because you never know when we might be needed in your life.
Today, as mobile phone users, we need no convincing as to the importance of our phones. We are addicted. Leave home without it? Many of us won’t leave the room without it. For some, might need you in my life has become you are my life. Driving this message home for me was the first time I overheard someone talking on their phone in a public toilet stall. Multitasking – the mantra of smart phone users. I wonder, just how urgent was that call?
Let’s look at some of the numbers. A 60 Second Marketer 2011 report states that 4 billion people use a mobile phone and 3.5 billion use a toothbrush, providing evidence that, for some of us, communication is more important than hygiene. An IPOS Research Canadian survey in May of 2012 identified that 79% won’t leave home without their smart phones. It went on to identify that 25% would give up their TV before they gave up their smart phone. 70% use them for emailing. 60% use them for web searches. 59% use them to search for products and 50% use them to search for Restaurants, Pubs and Bars (maybe tied to that toilet stall issue I mentioned earlier). Just saying…
The studies and the numbers are extensive. They all point to the same thing. We are becoming more mobile in our communications and marketing must adapt to our growing mobilization. Marketing organizations have coined new phrases for this approach such as, One to One Marketing and Location Based Marketing. That’s the obvious. What is not so obvious is how to reach out to the mobile audience. Remember we are talking about ME and ME does not want their personal space (grimace and refer to above) intruded upon with marketing messages. In fact, if you do intrude upon this space without an invitation, you will be locked out of further communication. So, it’s a dicey situation. How do you reach out with promotions without offending your prospects? How do you deepen the relationship? The answer is, seek permission, of course. How do you do that? Let’s review a few options.
One very effective approach in obtaining permission to contact smart phone users is to start with a QR Code (Quick Response Code). A QR Code can be printed on just about anything (see our video) and should be directed to a mobilized site with special content (the promise). It is scanned by a smart phone and linked to a landing page of your choice. This morning, one of our staff came in with a QR Code label on a banana. When scanned it took you to a mobilized menu of options ranging from a movie to product information. This QR technology was developed almost 20 years ago in Japan and has proliferated throughout Asia, Europe and now, North America. As usual, you must offer some reward if the QR Code is scanned and then further potential benefits if they provide permission to be contacted by your company. Remember the ME principle.
Another option is to use a PURL campaign as identified on May 23, 2012. Again, future benefits must be identified and then later, provided. A printed item is sent to the customer with their name in the PURL. When they enter/click on that code a custom landing page appears. Provide a questionnaire asking for permission to send SMS mobile messages or email messages with special content when they are available. Remember email (56%) and SMS text messaging (41%) are two of the methods used to send marketing messages that resulted in a purchase by consumers using their smart phones according to an ExactTarget 2011 report.
Regardless of the method used to engage the mobile customer, you must have a mobilized web site. Never send a mobile phone user to a standard web site that has not been mobilized. On top of that and again, the most critical note, is never send mobile marketing messages without permission. That type of advertising is called “interruption advertising”, popular on TV and radio, but absolutely not in personal communications. A closing quotation:
“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”
Craig Davis, Chief Creative Officer Worldwide, J. Walter Thompson, the world’s 4th largest advertising agency.
Next time: What’s with Print and Marketing Anyway?