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Make a (sustainable) impact with print – takeaways from the Power of Print 2019

On 5 November, we headed to Stationers’ Hall for the annual Power of Print conference to discuss all things print. Here’s what we took away from the leading experts in the print and marketing industry.

Print can make memories
One major point that was reaffirmed throughout the day was the potential of print to create a memorable, tactile experience – something that the technology of mainstream digital marketing is currently unable to do.

Ogilvy UK’s Rory Sutherland described this as ‘The Doorman Illusion’. While an automatic door can replace the logistical function of the doorman, it just can’t replace the personal and more memorable experience of engaging with a welcoming human being. Digital marketing is more efficiently able to target and track, but paper is tactile. It engages with our sense of touch. And because of that, it’s more likely to plant itself in the recipient’s memory.

What’s more, print has the potential to create a meaningful moment. Ryan Battles and Zoë Francis-Cox of Archant Dialogue relayed the success of Harley Davidson’s print magazine HOG. The magazine proved so successful, that when digital versions were released, the team received objection from readers who suspected that the publication was to become a digital-only magazine. For these readers, reading from print has powerful sentimental value. It’s not just about consuming information, but the full experience of taking a moment to read a well-crafted piece of print with a coffee or a beer.

Print is actually a sustainable marketing medium
With the public’s ever-growing eco-consciousness, print has been loaded with a pretty bad reputation for being unsustainable. As pointed out by UCL’s Professor of Climatology Mark Maslin, it is the perception that paper is unsustainable that challenges the print industry.

Two Sides Europe representative Jonathan Tame busted some myths of print’s unsustainability. Did you know that European forests have been growing by over 1,500 football pitches every day? Or that paper is one of the most recycled products in the world?

Using savvy distribution methods and the right resources and materials, a print campaign can have a low impact on the environment and a high impact on your target market.

Take advantage of the “disadvantages” of print
It’s a well-known industry conundrum that tracking short term sales from print marketing is difficult. Yet Wavemaker’s Nick Vale suggested that the digitalisation of marketing is triggering the death of creativity in advertisement. With a reliance on hard stats, marketing teams (and their accountants) are less willing to take bold risks on hard-to-measure ideas. Modern marketing is led predominantly by logic, and creativity is being left behind. But what if you took advantage of this trend?

Rory Sutherland calls that bold, hard-to-measure idea the “magic”. This magic is about charm and delight, not hard data. According to him, this magic is the warm cookie provided when you check in at a DoubleTree Hilton Hotel. Sutherland suggests that, to gain a competitive edge, “Do things that aren’t measurable. Why? Because no one else can.”