Get better connected…..and we don’t mean online

Get better connected…..and we don’t mean online

Having been in marketing since the late 1970’s it was with some trepidation I set off with the BrunelPrint team for last week’s Vision conference on Bristol’s harbourside. Organised by Bristol Media, the two day event was a celebration of ‘Creative Freedom’ and I was interested to see what keeps the next generation of young marketers awake at night.

That said, the voice of experience was not ignored, Patrick Collister, Head of Design at Google, who made his name in the world of 1980’s television advertising provided an excellent keynote on the new rules of communication. I, like most of the audience, was held captivated as he talked about his famous ‘Gotta Lotta Bottle’ TVC and how he would have run that campaign in 2014 using the vast array of communications channels available today.

It certainly got me thinking back to my days at Typhoo and my tenure as marketing director during the 1990’s tea wars, battling it out with PG Tips & Tetley for market share.

While I recognise, as Patrick pointed out, that the rules have changed massively due to the advent of digital technologies and the ‘always on’ culture driven by the internet, he also focussed heavily on collaboration. The key point here being that different marketing disciplines need to collaborate on campaigns to get the best result for the client.

Without wanting to sound like an industry text book, this brings us back to one of the foundations of marketing – the marketing mix. I would never suggest that the advent of technology has not been a huge enabler to the communications industry, both in terms of how we work and our client campaigns. However, it’s important to understand that the marketing mix is called the ‘mix’ for a reason. By mixing printed promotions such as leaflets, direct mailers & billboards with TV, online and social media; brands can maximise their chance of connecting with consumers who are bombarded by hundreds of products and promotions every day.

It’s also prudent not to write off more traditional marketing techniques as obsolete. Take print for example, our area of expertise, many marketing professionals and agencies fear that it’s too expensive or aren’t up to date on how much print technology has moved on since they might have last used it. In fact, print can still deliver very high levels of engagement when used to illustrate a clever concept or message – it’s no coincidence that printed direct mailers still have some of the best campaign ROI stats in the industry.

Also, print can be used to complement and drive digital campaigns, particularly where personalisation and one-to-one engagement is key. Alex Hunter, day one keynote touched on this with his Four Seasons hotel example as part of his talk on customer experience and brand loyalty.  As part of its online and social media strategy, The Four Seasons hotel monitored comments of soon-to -arrive guests on twitter & Facebook and personalised their experience by producing beautiful hand-written letters to present them with on arrival, a sachet of someone’s favourite bath oil was included in one example given.

Why take this approach rather than a quick reply on twitter? Because print connects with people on a deeper, emotive level and shows you care enough about that person to put the time in to producing something thoughtful, rather than just firing off a quick email or tweet.

In Natalie Horne’s session on behavioural economics she showed a slide to illustrate how people respond to pricing deals and the difference how they are presented makes. Though not the focus of her point, the fact that when presented with the choice between a web only subscription to the Economist versus a web & print deal (at nearly double the price), the majority of people wanted the web & print package.

So clearly people do care about print and still place a value on having it. Perhaps this is best illustrated by what happened at Vision itself, in relation to the printed version of the programme which we produced.

A full printed programme, personalised with each person’s name and the sessions they’d selected to attend was given to each delegate on arrival. The response we got to it was quite overwhelming – people seemed very excited by a well-crafted piece of print with their name on it. Many tweeted to mention their programme and even share pictures of their personalised version.

You’d almost expect the creative sector to be the last people to get excited about having a printed conference programme, given the number of iPads & iPhones at Vision and the sectors’ love of all things digital. The programme could easily have been downloaded from the website & viewed on any device. So in some ways, endorsement from this particular audience hammers home the emotive connection of print and its authority better than any other.

On that note, what is it about print that still excites people in the creative industries? Where do you think print fits in the current climate? What campaigns are you working on that include an element of print? Why did you choose it as part of the mix?

We’d love to hear from you and share your comments with others.