Ditching Digital: 4 Strategies for Print Ads in Retail

Why not take a unique approach to print ads? After all, in retail and marketing, it’s all about being flashy and getting noticed.

Published on 28 September, 2015

Despite the ever-increasing reliance on technology, humankind has not been completely swallowed by the digital world. Many individuals still prefer physical objects over digital ones, and it is unlikely that books, presentations, manuals and physical media will go the way of the dodo any time soon, regardless of outlandish predictions.

The fact of the matter is that seeing and holding something in real life will always trump digital representations, and this idea holds true for retailers and their marketing initiatives. Many organizations would be hard-pressed to find a local store or community shop that doesn’t use print advertisements to attract and retain customers. Shawn Gauthier, an advertising professional who has worked with clients such as POM Wonderful and FIJI Water, told JCK Online that 100 percent of the brands he serves use print ads.

“I think there’s something less ignorable about print advertising,” Gauthier explained to the source.

Print ads are successful because customers have something tangible to hold, and in this way, people are already interacting with a brand. However, the value of these advertisements is not lost on organizations, meaning that retailers need to step up their game or risk falling behind the competition.

So, why not take a unique approach to print advertising? After all, in retail and marketing, it’s all about being flashy and getting noticed. Let’s take a look at four different, yet equally intriguing, print marketing strategies that retailers can use this summer to revolutionize their brands and attract more consumers.

“In retail, it’s all about being flashy and getting noticed.”

1. Make print interactive
From QR codes to scratch-and-sniff ads, retailers have been making their print advertisements more interactive as digital channels start to steal some attention away from physical media. The result is an interesting blend between print and digital, and retailers should take a page from a few companies’ playbooks.

A recent article on Hubspot from Agency Post highlighted unique interactive print ads that left their mark on consumers. Kontor Records, for example, used a single page advertisement that looked like a turntable, and when consumers downloaded a mobile app and placed their iPhones over the print ad, the smartphone would play music. Sonara took a similar approach, according to the source, using a print ad that doubles as a game board for an iPhone app.

Retailers don’t need to get that crazy with their print media, as Ford advertised its Ford Explorer by simply adding a QR code to its ads. When scanned, consumers viewed a video of the SUV. Even if it’s a small interaction, retailers can attract new customers.

2. Let the image speak for itself
When retailers want to advertise their stores, they’re likely to bombard consumers with the benefits of their products and unique qualities of their services. However, this isn’t the only worthwhile approach to print marketing.

Dan Rosenthal, a Washington, D.C.-based advertising professional, told JCK Online that the top priority for creating a successful ad is simplicity. Retailers should be afraid to let blank, white space play a role in their print campaigns, as this can help advertisers create a single focal point for the ad. Furthermore, the source noted that words are sometimes not even required.

Less can sometimes be more in print advertising, and an intriguing advertisement might just bring in customers due to their sheer curiosity.

Scanning a QR code brings a level of interaction that other print ad techniques can'tScanning a QR code brings a level of interaction that other print ad techniques can’t.

3. Use data to find an audience
In the age of big data, retailers are on the front lines due to the sheer amount of information they collect everyday. So, why not use that data for advertising?

AdAge reported that Target is applying programmatic advertising to print marketing, a process in which media-buying agencies use data to find the perfect ad and audience. While that seems to take this idea to the extreme, the point holds true: Retailers have a wealth of data that they can use to target print ads.

To start, retailer just need to look through their demographics, maybe collect some customer feedback and determine the best spot to hand of flyers or hang posts, allowing them to create the perfect print ad.

4. Let every department provide an opinion
The argument over who owns the creative process has raged on for years, and there still isn’t a definitive answer. Marketers like to have control over the print ad creation process, but other departments can play a role as well.

“With online content sharing platforms, it’s easy to get everyone’s opinion.”

Richard Warren, chief executive of DLKW Lowe, told Marketing Magazine that some businesses support the idea of “owned channels” in which certain marketing teams handle different media, while other argue that executive should have final say. Regardless, retailers should have customer service representatives, C-level professionals and local managers all take a look at print ads before approving them. After all, with online content sharing platforms, doing that today is much easier than it was a decade ago.

Print marketing will remain popular for a long time, and the argument isn’t whether that medium is valuable or not, but rather that retailers need to find the most worthwhile form of print advertising to get their point across.

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