As consumers, less than 10 year ago, we wouldn’t think twice about picking up a newspaper or magazine, but in the digital age, people’s ‘go to’ for content has shifted to something a bit less tangible – apps on their mobile devices. This is leaving industries who were once heavily reliant on print, no choice but to evolve with the times.

Today, information is at our fingertips. Social Media, a medium commonly accessed via mobile devices, where content is instantly distributed, engaged with, and shared – is changing the way in which we live our daily lives, and in which people do business. An article from Psychology Today puts this into perspective using the ‘Attachment Theory,’ describing mobile devices as having the same purpose as that of the teddy or toy we clung onto and took everywhere as a child. Dependency on mobile devices is higher than ever before.

Along with mobile attachment, the demand for consumer personalisation has experienced a strong growth over the last few years – with more users associating with brands that resonate with them and their lives. Users are blending personal with business.

A study by PwC found that 94% of respondents believe that offering personalisation is crucial when reaching out to customers, and conveniently for marketers, Social Media is built on user personalisation.

Social media makes sense in a digital age, especially due to its high return with low cost. It should come as no surprise that more and more companies are swapping the traditional print-based adverts for advertising on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn – depending on what platform(s) make the most sense for the business goals.

Because of the opportunities that have been paved for us by the digital age, the question must be asked – ‘Is print still relevant – and furthermore, if a company is still using print, are they considered obsolete?’

If the answer for relevancy is deemed to be ‘yes,’ those who still have a need for print will need to come up with new innovations to remain current in a fast-moving environment.

In this post, we’ll outline the powerful benefits of social media and how print is adapting to stay afloat in industries where it might still make sense – such as financial services.

The Age of Social Media

Currently, there are around 2 Billion Social Media users, making Social Media platforms the perfect place of opportunity for brands to gain consumer engagement.

The number of social networking platforms to choose from is increasing with each offering a different way for users and businesses to communicate. Whether it’s a blog post, sharing an instant snap on Snapchat, a single photo or video on Instagram, expressing an opinion in 280 characters through twitter or using Facebook to connect with friends worldwide. Having such a variety of ways to communicate and connect at our finger tips has created an environment where intimate face-to-face communication is really no longer a necessity.

Print: A Thing of the Past?

Print is Social Media’s biggest rival.

People have become less dependent on printed literature, due to the large time space between information being available to readers. But… the answer to our question posed in the beginning is that even with the evolving digital world, print can be very much still relevant for certain industries like finance, when used in tandem with social media and other digital means of communication.

To maintain an audience, many companies using print now feature hashtags and social media handles within their printed materials – making sure what’s printed, aligns with what’s digital. This creates a bridge between print and social media in a simple way by allowing readers to participate in online discussion and production of content. Users may even create digital call to actions in their printed materials to ultimately drive the reader to a website or social page. A good example of this is Legal & General Investment Management’s ‘Own Your World‘ campaign.

Let’s not also forget that while social media is used to maintain and sometimes birth brand identities, print can still play a big part in branding as well. It’s all about the content and the customer experience – especially in financial services where the competition continues to grow and the challenge of standing out has only become larger.

People involved in financial services are very much still reading newspapers and magazines within the industry and attending events that have many print aspects associated with them. Again, when used in tandem with social media and digital means of communication – print plays a role of brand reinforcement while still giving readers that tangible asset they may crave.

Staying Afloat, Not Behind

Print has underlying qualities to keep it noticed other than being tangible. Having something printed, displays a level of importance and creates a sense of legitimacy and credibility.

Companies where print is still relevant have taken on board the personalisation success of Social Media, thus resulting in consumers now having the opportunity to create and send printed personalised cards and gifts at their fingertips.

An example of personalised print done well within the financial services is one Barclays currently offer their customers, at present customers can upload an image online and have it printed onto their bank card for free – a good mix of print and digital to bring a brand together.

Financial services is a place where print still shows promise for marketing, because when people deal with large quantities of money, they like tangible paperwork.

Below are some examples where print is still relevant:

  • Direct mail: This medium has a huge potential for great return on investment and raising awareness in the use of printed mail and three-dimensional mail.
  • Application forms: The simple fact is for many financial products people still need to sign a real document rather than relying on digital signatures.
  • Key features documents: When someone invests money in a financial product, they want something tangible to take home afterwards that represents and explains the product. They want a quick and easy reference quite literally to hand.
  • Event take-aways: Financial services is a relationship business. While having iPads and other interactive digital media at events is great for capturing data and getting prospects involved with your product or brand, it can lack the ability to create a lasting impression. That’s why printed marketing is still useful – having something people can take away with them as a reminder of who and what they’ve seen can influence worthwhile connections, even if it’s just a business card, this type of print still matters.

The other thing worth bearing in mind about print in creative financial services marketing is that while more of the output might be digital, that doesn’t mean eBooks or documents aren’t being printed by those receiving them, making it very important to design with this in mind, ensuring content is suitable to be printed, as well as being eye-catching both on and off screen.

What’s to Come

Do we think print will ever go out of style completely – the answer is no, but it’s relevance now will be way less in the future.

It is important for brands to understand digital transformation and find a means of resources to get them to where they need to be. As stated, if you’re still printing – it doesn’t mean you’re necessarily behind, but when holding on to print and its benefits, it is also crucial to always tie it into digital initiatives as a brand can no longer be held up on print alone.

The explosive growth and expansion of data passed via social channels has provided opportunity to connect and share on an unimaginable scale – and as mentioned, that has not gone unnoticed by most.

For now, print in financial services has proved its relevancy when all marketing initiatives (including social media) are brought together with printed assets. But we do still know, is that print use for marketing is declining.

When a product or service is deemed free, like organic social, it has a deep impact on the willingness to try. People will instantaneously try something if its free, which is one of the reasons why Social Media is so successful, although there are paid aspects as well for businesses. Something being ‘free’ escapes the feeling of regret for a consumer, making Social Media the perfect platform for attracting attention, and ultimately business.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about StoneShot and how we can help with your company branding and digital marketing initiatives, please get in touch.