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Creative trend: Is print dead? How brands are employing print marketing

Who doesn’t love receiving a good piece of print marketing? In a world where we’re bombarded with targeted digital ads, a tangible, innovative, tailored bit of print collateral can really make customers sit up and take notice.

Shariff Ibrahim

Good print marketing is far more likely to end up on someone’s kitchen table or desk and get passed around the office than get sent to a spam email folder or lost on social timelines. And brands are realising that joined-up campaigns that straddle both digital and print are really having an effect on customers, letting you amplify your brand in more creative ways.

Print marketing in numbers

While some commentators may decry that “print is dead”, a look at some of the numbers around print performance proves that’s far from the truth. Clear B2B assert that the UK remains the world’s fifth largest producer of printed products, employing 140,000 people in 10,500 companies, with a turnover of around £14 billion. And global spending on paid media is estimated to hit $542.55 billion by year-end, according to eMarketer.

So there’s life in the old direct mail yet. Royal Mail have crunched the numbers around response rates of print marketing, showing that more than 92% of direct mail is opened and 48% of UK adults took action after receiving direct mail last year (14.2m bought something, 10.5m used a voucher or coupon, 2.8m tried a new product or service and 3m made an enquiry by phone). Direct mail delivers an average £3.22 return on investment compared with online’s £3.12 for every £1 spent. 

How brands are using print

Just as with any form of digital marketing media, campaigns still need to actually be eye-catching and purposeful enough to drive engagement. Here are just a few examples of how brands are using print marketing in creative, exciting ways.

Interactive cross-platform campaigns

With the ubiquity of smart devices, print ads that let you get interactive are really pushing cross-platform engagement. In 2013, Motorola ran an ad in Wired magazine which let you physically change the colour of the pictured MotoX handset, achieved via wafer-thin LEDs and batteries. Ford created posters for each Mustang generation, featuring a Spotify code that took you to a bespoke audio playlist, tying digital in with print. Bombay Sapphire’s ‘Infused with Imagination’ was a multi-million pound campaign which incorporated print ads with a 3D art installation and film.

Tasty campaigns that you'll love or hate

Focusing purely on the physical can really capture people’s imagination, too. A colleague here at Jigsaw24 shared a video of his partner’s office receiving a shipment of doughnuts packaged in a giant Kit Kat box. Nestle had teamed up with Krispy Kreme to create innovative packaging that combined physical PR with clever print that would really leave an impression – and quite a few calories.

Office favourites Marmite are renowned for their cheeky, divisive campaigns. After the 2018 Australian ‘Sandpapergate’ ball-tampering scandal, Marmite teased the Aussie cricket team by handing out branded sandpaper at the second Ashes Test at Lord’s. This was part of a wider #MarmyArmy promotional strategy, which also saw Marmite jars and badges being handed out, as well as a full page newspaper ad comparing them to Australian yeasty rival Vegemite.

Quirky campaigns that are good for you

With Halloween coming up, we were recently looking at ways we could complement our usual yearly email, video and social campaign, researching some relevant, creative and engaging marketing campaigns. One of our favourites was a 2009 campaign by always-creative beer brand Guinness, where they gave away a free spooky shadow beer mat with every pint ordered. Guinness is a niche brand in Romania, so as well as driving sales, the coasters’ collectability meant customers were taking the piece of print home as a souvenir. Good things come to those who use print marketing, it seems. 

How we use print at Jigsaw24

As a brand, we’ve always incorporated print ourselves, going all the way back to the hefty but beloved old Jigsaw Directory catalogue. Traditionally, we find that our customer base is very receptive to traditional print marketing, and we use it alongside email, web and social too, tailoring campaign strategy to best cater to the preferences of each sector.

Our regular Creative Edu magazine – a roundup of education-focused articles, solutions and customer stories – is more likely to land on a headteacher’s desk or get passed around the staff room than a product catalogue, while our location-specific campaigns to businesses get more engagement by combining targeted social media and email alongside our print flyer track.

We’ve also recently launched our new Outline magazine devoted to creatives, jammed full of the latest creative trends, interviews with brands and agencies, and our top tech recommendations. The latest issue is available to download for free now or, in keeping with our theme, get in touch for your free glossy (velvet laminate, actually) print version!

How you can get started

If you’re already creating quality digital marketing in-house, it’s likely that you’ll already have all the tools you need to crack into print marketing too. It’s also likely that you’ll already have the required transferable skills within your team.

Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop are the industry standard creative apps used by creative agencies and print houses, and are all available within a Creative Cloud subscription. A decent Mac configuration will ensure you have the power to fly through Adobe apps, and adding a Wacom Intuos Pro or Cintiq graphics tablet will allow designers to get more hands-on with their workflow.

Print workflows do involve large amounts of files and imagery, which can cause access and organisation issues for your team, and ultimately IT headaches. Our team recommend (and use) Extensis Portfolio Studio to keep on top of print assets, while getting easy access for small workgroups handling a large portfolio. You can find out more about this, and all our other technology solutions by giving the sales team a call on the details below.

Want to find out more about print marketing and the tools you’ll need? Get in touch with the team on 03332 409 204 or email For the latest news, follow us on LinkedInFacebookand Twitter.

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