Print isn’t dead: 4 benefits of print marketing

The digital world is getting crowded, and more businesses are returning to print marketing to boost visibility, attract new customers and grow their business. But don’t call it a comeback: Print marketing never left.

Businesses in the United States spent $13.5 billion on social media advertising in 2017, and social media spending is expected to hit $17 billion by 2019. That’s a lot of Facebook ads and promoted tweets! However, in a survey, 76 percent of small businesses say that their ideal marketing plans include online and print marketing.

There are some things that print marketing can do that online marketing and social media ads just can’t compete on. Here are four benefits of print marketing:

1. Print marketing is tangible

An online ad can only be seen. A postcard or business card can be seen and touched — and the quality of the printed piece speaks to the quality of your business.

Shelley Hunter, owner of the Quincy Feather Bed Inn located in Quincy, California, designed and printed an entire suite of materials, including brochures, business cards, letterhead and envelopes for her Sierra Mountains inn.

“I use print marketing because people still ask for a brochure or a business card,” Hunter said. “It’s something tangible you can slip in your bag and easily show someone else without having to have cell reception, or find a link, or remember what the heck the name of the website is.”  

The front and back of the business card for Quincy Feather Bed Inn in Quincy, California

2. Print marketing has a high response rate

According to, advertisers spent $167 per person on direct mail in 2015, and earned $2,095 — that’s a 1,255 percent return!

Studies also prove that combining print marketing with digital promotions drives higher response rates and conversions than using digital-only communications. That’s probably because online and social media ads are there one second and gone the next. And once they’re gone, they are out of sight and out of mind. Who has time to remember all the online ads they see?

Plus, print marketing promotes your business beyond the computer screen. You can take your message to heavy-traffic areas or where your target audience hangs out.

Circus Center prints brochures, posters and postcards to promote its unique organization: a circus training and performing arts center in San Francisco that offers classes in everything from the flying trapeze and acrobatics, to clown and contortion workshops. 

“Being a circus school, visuals are key to promoting what we do,” said Fernando Gambaroni, a graphic designer and marketer for Circus Center. “Printing allows us to reach an audience that is not regularly online. In some ways, street advertising also helps us compete toe-to-toe with larger arts organizations on the street, because it gives us access to the same kind of real estate.”

3. Print marketing builds trust

Let’s be honest: Online ads can come across as spammy. Some people are afraid to click on them for fear of having their identity stolen or downloading a virus. Print marketing, such as a professionally printed postcard, lets customers know that you are an actual business and not a scam. 

According to a recent survey by MarketingSherpa, 82 percent of internet users trust print ads when making a purchase decision — making them the most trusted form of advertising.

“The combination of both online and print is important to us. Printing helps us solidify our advertising by appearing a second time on a different, more concrete medium,” said Gambaroni. “Our chances of making a real impact on potential audiences grows exponentially when we accomplish this.”

The best way to stand out from your competitors is to emphasize what you do better. But in a small online ad, there’s not a lot of room to highlight your business’s features and benefits. However, in a print marketing piece, you have plenty of space to share detailed information about your products and services in an easy-to-read format.

Gambaroni said that Circus Center’s print marketing not only details what classes and workshops they offer, but it also lets prospects know what kind of organization they are and sets the tone.

“Since we are a performing arts organization, we use print materials to highlight not just the content, but also the style and tone of what we are promoting, be that for a class, an event or a show,” said Gambaroni. “We combine print with online advertising that features video or slideshows. We strive to give every campaign a cohesive design throughout every single platform. In the end, we know that the work we put into all our promotional materials will translate into a direct representation of the love we have for our craft.” 

Brochure for Circus Center in San Francisco, California

4. Print marketing is saved

It’s important to create an online and offline journey for customers, especially for businesses in the hospitality, food and restaurant, automotive repair, and any industry that involves visiting a storefront or other location.

Hunter said the Quincy Featherbed Inn’s printed dining guide gives customers quick access to the best places to eat and drink in the area. This saves customers the time they would spend searching online, leaving them more time for shopping, eating, drinking — you get the idea.

“It’s much faster than hooking up online and scrolling through a list. That’s just not as fun or convenient,” said Hunter. “The dining guides will sit next to the brochure and business card we leave in each of the rooms. People take them home, and that’s good advertising.”

While many businesses dedicate their marketing budget to try to stand out in jam-packed online world, savvy business owners use a combination of digital and print marketing increase their chances of making a lasting impression.

Make a memorable impression

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