The digital revolution, also known as the third industrial revolution, has hit the print media and publishing industry extremely hard. And with the closure of so many big names in the business, headlines about the death of the print industry are becoming more and more common.
But we disagree.
As an agency that relies on both traditional media and digital media, we believe we have been presented with a new way for print to grow. This isn’t an emotional ‘rise out of the ashes like a phoenix’ story. This is a story of pragmatic hope. This is about out-the-box innovation and cautious excitement. This is about the future as much as it is about the past and the present. This is the time for strategy in the face of the evolution and revolution of an industry.
This is the story of the middle ground between digital and print.
Every marketing strategist is telling everyone that now is the time to go digital. We tell our clients, too. Then why advocate for print?
When we recently rebranded, we made sure we know exactly where our brand stands on this topic:
We are not black and white, picking a side between traditional and digital. We built our home in the space between the two. But we do love the black and white of words on a page, whether that page is in your hands or on your screen. SimonSAYS is headed back to the future.
The Enigma of the Third-World
Context is key. We can read articles from American advertising authorities to bolster our digital offerings all day, but it will do little good without understanding how things work here at home.
South Africa is a third-world country, but it is unique in so many ways. One such way is that we are not completely run by technology, smartphones or an easily-accessible digital space.
India, on the other hand, is also a third-world country, yet it has beaten the USA to be crowned the country with the highest number of app downloads. That means that the majority of the population is equipped with both smartphones and data. We cannot say the same for SA.
Why is this important to note?
Because SA still relies on print in the absence of affordable mobile data and smartphones. This means direct marketing is the best way to reach a great part of the population – and direct marketing goes hand-in-hand with print for a wider reach.
So what makes print so special?
Really, what makes print worth holding on to?
Print brings noise. It is tangible. There’s urgency, nostalgia, interest and wonder.
But digital marketing offers interactive communication. It is also, however, fleeting. Digital media is in the moment. Quick. In and out.
Print engages the senses – making it more memorable and easier to recall. It creates a lasting impression.
Now think about how you can combine traditional media with digital media to reach your target market. Think about print collateral, or leave-behind marketing. Think about how you can make your packaging unique and intriguing.
Think about a 15-second glance at an ad as you scroll through your timeline. Then think about a poster, magazine, or pamphlet that lives in a waiting room for 15 days. Which one is more durable? This is why print ads require extra thought and effort.
But if it were so simple, we wouldn’t be talking about this, would we?
So what is the one secret advantage that digital holds over print?
The answer is simple. Measurable results and outcomes from advertising.
“We received this many clicks and this many shares in this week, and in the same week our conversions and sales increased by this percent.”
“Last week, our boosted post reached this many people! Now we’ll monitor how many of them found our website through that post, and how long they stayed on the website.”
Digital is measurable.
And that’s why we’ve embarked on the task of making print advertising measurable, too – applying the same amount of research and tracking to our printed campaigns that we do to our online campaigns. (Have a look at our portfolio for a feel of how we’ve created this balance thus far.) By taking advantage of the positives of each avenue – traditional and digital – we can monitor each win and each loss. We can start crafting new tools to reach audiences.
We can revolutionise an industry that is struggling to evolve.
The Middle Ground
The way forward is about zooming out. It’s about not losing hope and about finding your place in a new reality.
Let’s not give up. Let’s work together.
Because we see the bigger picture, and we see you.