In 2017, English author Menna van Praag published ‘The Lost Art of Letter Writing’, a story about an avid letter-writer who owned a lonely paper and pen store in Cambridge. It could be argued that such a story has been a long-time coming, and could have been penned far earlier.
Except it probably wouldn’t have been penned at all. Instead, it would have been committed to a blog, shared on social media, and maybe lost amidst hundreds of millions of other digital posts. But van Praag’s message, that paper and ink still has its place, resounds far beyond the realms of fiction – and is even relevant in the world of modern advertising too.
To be fair, that’s not even been the question for many businesses in the last few years. The opportunity of the digital realm has been enticing businesses to lean away from print for some time – even though statistics suggest it’s not an entirely effective strategy.
For instance, research by MarketingProfs found that even younger people, aged 18-23, find printed content easier to read in full, than they do digital. Plus, the response rate to direct-mail marketing is almost 40% higher than it is for e-mails. Plus, crucially, consumers actually trust printed advertisements 34% more than they do search engine advertisements.
And there are a number of reasons why we do tend to trust print, over digital. First of all, there’s our increasing awareness of targeted advertising, and all the bad press that follows it in the form of data breaches and information privacy scandals.
Plus, being able to reach out and physically touch something actually makes an enormous difference in how we react to, and remember it. A study by Newsworks found that when it comes to print, being able to touch an advertisement, even that on the page of a newspaper, increases the belief that the brand is honest and sincere by 41%. The same study found that quality perceptions – and intent to purchase – also increased by a fifth and almost a quarter respectively, when a reader is able to touch the ad.
And finally, the businesses of all sizes are now closer to printing high quality physical advertising materials than they’ve ever been. Design software has become far more user-friendly, and adults are reaching the job market already used to creating graphics, editing images, and positioning text than ever before.
Not that this takes away any of the professionalism in the medium of design and print. It’s still a skill – just a skill that’s been made far easier by advances in technology. And this includes the printers themselves, and the companies that design them. The likes of Duplo International supply high quality printers specifically designed for direct marketing, paper folding, and much more. We may certainly be a digitally connected world for the foreseeable, but there’s no need to lose the incredible art of direct advertising any time soon.