It wasn’t even 40 years ago that when people thought about marketing, their first thought was print materials. Brochures, rack cards, business cards, note pads, calendars, etc. But that has shifted in the last 2 decades, and the last 2 years has forced this shift into warp speed with many businesses moving into 100% e-commerce based business, removing their need for print marketing materials.

Digital marketing has created an entirely new way to reach customers in ways that wouldn’t be possible without technology. Videos that customers can interact with, live streaming to millions of people from our smartphones for instant access, QR codes, link trees, and so much more. The new marketing possibilities list is never-ending. Every day new pieces of information are being introduced to thousands of people, and customers are learning to consume marketing materials faster than ever before, but does that mean print is becoming obsolete? Experts don’t think so, and neither do we!

History of printing


In order to understand how integral print marketing is to the everyday operations of a business, let’s take a look back in history at how we got here!

  • ca. 3100 BCE – Cuneiform, one of the earliest forms of writing systems is developed in modern day Iraq
  • ca 200 BCE – Parchment made from animal skin is used as a writing surface in Anatolian Greece (now Turkey)
  • ca 500 – Papermarking is described in modern day Uzbekistan
  • 1309 – England is using paper for the first time
  • 1478 – Printing beings at Oxford University (the actual printing press wouldn’t begin until 1584)
  • 1768 – Encyclopedia Britannica is created
  • 1902 – Air conditioning is accidentally invented while developing a dehumidifier for a New York Printer
  • 1970 – Water based ink is introduced to the printing world
  • 1971 – The invention of the internet
  • 1971 – 2004 – Print marketing is the main marketing medium, paving the way for universities, businesses, and more to carve out their marketing methods
  • 2004 – Facebook is launched, changing the way people interacted with others, businesses, and consumed information
  • 2022 – Present day

It’s interesting to note how long it took us to create paper, writing systems, writing utensils, mass production of printed materials, and other accidental inventions due to the printing industry, compared to how quickly social media and the internet has rose to fame as the “end all be all” of marketing these day. Print marketing is alive and well in today’s marketing world, and there is still a lot to be said and done with print materials.

Meet print’s new friend – digital marketing

One of the main benefits of print materials (and one of the reasons why people are confident in it not dying anytime soon) is that it puts your brand in your customers’ palm. Physical brochures, business cards, pamphlets, notepads, etc are all tangible items that your customers can take home and feel in their hot little hands (the texture of your items can mean a lot to your customers – consider what the items feel like when you are meeting with a local printer).

However, seeing as we live in the digital age, we’ve put together 5 ways to pair your printed marketing materials with digital marketing to create a complete, cohesive and unified brand strategy that’s bound to lock in any customer. If you’re going to go the extra mile to create stunning print materials, do yourself a favor and include the digital marketing pieces needed to take your business from okay to AMAZING! There is nothing wrong with knowing your customers and where they spend their time. Not everyone is going to be on social media, the internet, etc. Some people still check their mailboxes for coupons, fliers, and other traditional marketing items.

  1. QR Codes – Matrix barcodes created in 1994 by the Japanese company Denso Wave, and were meant to track vehicles during manufacturing. These digital codes are easy to create online with QR code generators. QR codes do exactly what you expect them to do – you scan them with your smartphone and they send you to a destination. These destinations can range from coupon codes, weblinks, unlisted pages for member exclusive information, payment information, and more.

  1. Reviews – take the headache out of thinking about what you say on your print goods, and use the power of your online reviews! Snag some comments from happy customers and use those as customer testimonials of how great your product or service is. There’s nothing better than a happy customer sharing their experience.
  1. Social Proof – similar to reviews, but empower your customers to shout from the rooftops how much they love your product, service, brand, customer service, etc. Create a hashtag (#) that is specific to your company or your brand. Include this on any and all print material you have. Share this across social media and ask thrilled customers to use that hashtag when sharing their experience. Others are more inclined to purchase something they see their friends raving about.
  1. Successful offers in print – did you run a BOGO coupon that was extremely successful in your mailers? Recreate that SAME BOGO online for your customers to grab from anywhere in the world! Chances are your customers will be appreciative of another deal, and you will be able to see just which marketing method was most effective for that specific campaign.
  1. Swag (goodies, freebies, branded materials) – there is nothing better than getting some free swag from a company. Whether it is a t-shirt, drink cozy, calendar, or branded notepads to keep all of the notes taken during calls. Employees, customers, and others all enjoy having physical items to remind them of your services. Take the above information and put it into your swag bags as well. Make sure your hashtags are included on all of your materials. Ask your customers to provide their experience using your products. Then take the reviews that people left for you, and use that in your print materials to show you are actually paying attention to what your customers have to say.

Social media marketing and digital marketing in their entirety are challenging every single day, but print marketing is far from dead. We simply need to introduce our digital marketing and our print marketing. Your marketing strategy and message should be consistent across all platforms, regardless of the medium that is being used. This is easier said than done, as even different marketing experts have conflicting ideas and methods on the best way to integrate the two together.

Make sure you are utilizing a local print shop that can help you troubleshoot issues as they arise. It’s important to understand if your marketing team is experienced in print media, or digital media. When you work with Printing Expressly For You, you have access to a marketing expert and strategist, and a trusted print shop with decades of experience printing, designing, and marketing local businesses. Access trained professionals in digital marketing when you partner with PEFY and know you’ll be putting your best foot forward in your customers mailboxes, inboxes, and social media pages. When your customer Google your business, they will see a cohesive brand strategy that doesn’t give a mixed message. Your customers will thank you, and you’ll rest assured that your marketing is handled, no matter what day and age we are in.

Printing Expressly for You has partnered with EMPIRE Sales Consulting, a leading website development and Search Engine Optimization company.  Check out the Empire site here.