Marketing Myths vs Math

“Today, I was answering one of those update phone calls to keep a free magazine coming and after the usual address and industry verification stuff the young man asked me whether I preferred the printed or digital version. Marketing Myth: Print is dead

I answered print and then asked him what most people wanted.

He told me print and before I asked said it was preferred about 4 to 1 regardless of the age of the respondent!”

“I can believe that,” said Rick who runs a world-class direct marketing firm. There is research from an ad agency, J Walter Thompson that says 8 of 10 Millennials prefer print because it makes them feel more connected.”

Kate pushed her dreads back over one ear and said, “That’s the Lion’s share of folks that sales people like me have to talk to in the B to B world. There is still a stack of industry magazines and newsletters on the desks of the offices I visit and I can’t tell you how often there is an open catalog there, too.”

Chris asked, “Do you see any post cards when you’re scanning offices? The reason I ask is that we’ve tested using postcards versus e-mail campaigns in my company and the post cards win going away. The call to action differential is as high as 5 to 1 and that causes a huge difference in the ROI regardless of the cost of mailing.”

Gail, our resident copywriter asked, “is that because of the relative lack of competitive mail? I understand it really dropped off over the years so now it gets more attention. A couple of my clients are starting to mail newsletters again and getting great results.”

“I know what you mean,” I said. One of my former clients had a pile of 9 by 12 envelopes sitting in a cupboard and decided to just try mailing for a couple of months. That was a year ago. They are still mailing because their clients keep them. I recognize that envelope and I look forward to getting it each month because of the great heads-up information on security and what Microsoft is doing.”

“Thas’ called branding ol’ son,” said Rob, our southern fried branding guru. “I’ll bet they are startin’ to put deals in that envelope, maybe printed on a different color of paper, to get you to look at them and dimes to donuts you’ve passed some along to clients or others.”

I bowed to him and said, “Guilty as charged.”

“Now let me put the pecans in the pie for all of you,” said Rob. Y’all ever get a mailer from Google offering a deal for starting up an advertising account? Think about that. One of the biggest digital operations on the planet is using mail to get your business. That tell you anything?”

Same way with catalogs. Kate is right about that. Somewhere around 12 billion catalogs mail every year. People are just more comfortable leafing through a catalog than trying to find an item on screen even if they order on line. Print builds brands and can be more efficient than digital.”

The Takeaway

The rumor of the death of printed materials is greatly exaggerated. Print is preferred for some purposes by about 80% of prospects. It is in many cases a stronger method of branding than digital activities. And always provides a more personal touch.


Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue. Sign up for the blog and other publications at:

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at

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