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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Is print, as a communications channel, on the rise again

I was at a weekend course in digital marketing recently and the group were talking about various digital marketing communication tools.

When the subject of email marketing came up I looked at my course notes and it stated: 'one of the cheapest and easy to measure methods of communication'. However, the feeling in the room amongst marketers was somewhat different. Comments included:

Most young people avoid email and converse via social networks
Spam, spam, spam, spam... (and it even has a major carbon footprint according to MCafee.)
I spend too much of my time going through emails that are not relevant to my job.

The comments got me thinking about statistics I had heard from (obviously with a point to make) that 83% of 18-24 year old surveyed believed that reading from paper is nicer than reading off a screen.

My mind also went back to a Management Diploma course I did when we reviewed different methods of communication in an office. I heard the horror stories of email rants and reactions that are possible due to the ease of access to email and the dreaded send button (and the remoteness of the recipient).

 So are we experiencing the start of the decline of email as a communication tool for marketing? Possibly.

Its popularity is based on its ease of access and affordability - but its assets are also its greatest weaknesses resulting in many ill-thought out, poorly planned and ineffective communications that cause as much annoyance (and damage) as interest.

Its recent rise in popularity has meant hard times for those involved in traditional publishing and print based industries.

Yet there are interesting things happening in the world of printed communications.

QR codes are very effective at taking offline communications online and now are seen extensively on magazine advert, billboards and the like. The use of PURLs via cross media marketing do a very similar job and enable marketers to message across a number of different channels including print, email and social media. New digital technologies are reducing the cost of printed products and enhancing their effect by utilising improved visual effects, textile appeal and smell!! And the case for print as the environmentally sound messaging medium (www.twosides,.info) is being made after years of being the whipping boy for most environmental groups.

Yet the key answer sought by the modern day marketing communications professional is ROI.The channel choice is insignificant compared to the results that a campaign delivers.And an increasing number of campaigns now use more than one channel. Print has numerous USP's and can deliver these to the communications mix working alongside other traditional and new media.

After a torrid few years it could be that the printed medium may have found its feet.

Pricing in an economic recession

For organisations of all sizes, an economic recession usually results is a call for reduced prices by the customer/consumer. Reduced pricing leads to lower margins , lower profits and less investment. The end of this cycle can be the decline of the organisation and, possibly, its ultimate demise.

But not all organisations seem to suffer the same. Indeed some seem to prosper. Why is this so?

Well, the reasons are many, but maintaining a viable pricing strategy is one key component of successful organisations.

Simply put, you can base pricing on 'cost', 'competitors' or use a 'marketing based pricing' approach.

The former two are self explanatory. But it is the marketing based approach that is most likely to deliver your organisation the margins that will allow you survive and even prosper in tough economic times.

A marketing based pricing strategy can be summarised by this quote from Ries and Trout.

‘All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the mind of the customer or prospect. The perception is the reality. Everything else is an illusion.’
Ries and Trout – The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

The two largest expenditures most individuals make in their lives are on houses and on cars. Yet are these rational choices or emotive choices? Watch any of the many relocation programmes on the TV  and you will see it is definitely the latter. Maslow's respected work on the 'Hierarchy of Needs' reinforces this.

Here are four things that any organisation can do to encourage emotive behavior in their customer and use this to maintain commercially viable pricing:
  • Understand your customers wants and needs.
  • Deliver a positive personal experience with the product/service.
  • Communicate recommendations from respected others.
  • Instigate and encourage positive press and peer review from independent source.
 No matter what you sell you can employ these simply tools to deliver outstanding results.