How to balance your digital and print marketing

How to balance your digital and print marketing

Now that the panic-provoking headlines of “print is dead” have toned down to “well, not quite”, it’s safe to say that we all know there is value in both print and digital marketing.

The question that businesses are now asking themselves, is how exactly do we work out how to divide our budgets between print and digital marketing?

Much depends on the unique needs of your business, as well as your goals and ambitions for the year ahead.

The first step to finding the right balance for your company is defining its nature: physical or digital? After all, if you have a digital business with few interactions with people in the “real world”, it makes sense to invest heavily in internet marketing, and limit your print marketing to business cards and perhaps a few branded items.

Alternatively, if your business has a physical store which will see different people come and go in person, it is sensible to put away a sizeable portion of your budget for leaflets, posters and other point of sale materials.

The intricacies come in whenever you consider how your audience already interacts with brand. Don’t attempt to diverge from the norm on this one – meet your audience where they already are, and make it easy for them.

For example, teenagers spend an average of 7.5 hours a day accessing digital media, and 24% confess to being online “almost constantly” – which means that if teens are already digital, you need to follow suit.

For example, media giant Condé Nast has recently closed its print edition of Teen Vogue, whilst continuing to invest heavily in its web version.

After all, Teen Vogue online sees 12 million unique visitors a month. Comparing that to the magazine’s circulation of 1 million, it is easy to spot where this brand’s audience is and where they need to invest.

Senior citizens, on the other hand, are less influenced by popular digital marketing channels than their teenage counterparts. What may come as natural to the younger audience – the navigation of countless apps, the usage of multiple online tabs – may turn off the older generation, who have more commonly engaged with more traditional marketing channels.

Newspapers, for example, have a readership which is composed of 65% senior citizens, with the demographic representing the highest marketing concentration for that medium.

That being said, 60% of elderly people are now online – meaning that you must dip your budget into both. Here, balance is key. It’s vitally important that you are aware of the ratio.

Of course, it’s rarely as simple as choosing digital over physical, or vice versa. There are always nuances to campaigns which should be considered if you want to make the most of your marketing budget.

For example, Macmillan Books’ YA brand MyKindaBook exists primarily online with its own social media pages and website. However, when promoting the titles under this brand, Macmillan doesn’t do all of its marketing through digital channels.

Instead, it takes a small, select group of influencers to send physical items to. This includes proof copies of the books and promotional items, such as branded bookmarks and accessories, alongside a physical press release. These physical items are then talked about online, primarily through “bookstagrammers” who create hype around the book’s cover and look on Instagram, and “booktubers” who are all too keen to discuss books and gifts they have received in their videos.

In this way, Macmillan can make a more personal connection through physical marketing materials, whilst also benefiting from the far-reaching nature of the internet, where their target market typically exists.

When it comes to marketing for kids, one might consider the balance of Smyths’ Toy Superstore.

Many children aren’t allow online, and rarely have the means to log on by themselves, meaning that a large push for digital marketing would be ill-advised.

Print marketing, however, can work very well. Smyths regularly posts toy catalogues to children’s houses, where they can peruse page after page of products before asking their parents to go to the store, or even order the item online.

The catalogues are also available in store, so even when a child doesn’t have time to wander through the store, they can take one with them, and ensure a later sale.

Digital, of course, comes into play for reaching parents, the ones with the buying power in this situation. With plenty of giveaways and reminders that must-have toys are back in stock, Smyths knows exactly who will be on their Facebook page.

The answer to finding the balance between print and digital marketing does not solely lie in an understanding of the age groups of our target audiences. Some reasonable suggestions can be found when considering the goals of your business.

Is your business aiming for a worldwide reputation? For those wanting to conquer the globe, digital is a must. It allows a business to be anywhere and everywhere at once, targeting niche communities thousands of miles from HQ without the massive costs of billboards or finding a foreign team to distribute flyers.

Your business could, alternatively, be more concerned with local customers for events, exhibitions and concerts. An example of this could be an art gallery or national museum with a changing programme of events and a consistent level of footfall.

In this case, it makes more sense to allocate more focus towards print in the form of leaflets, posters and banners. Think of how local nightclubs target student areas in university cities to hand out flyers and promotional materials to.

The size of your budget can lead you to favour one kind of marketing over the other. Digital, after all, can be relatively inexpensive.

Facebook pages can be set up for nothing, with effective advertising costing as little as £5. Blogs can also be set up for free, and you can write informative blog posts yourself. You can also promote yourself through YouTube, Twitter and you can set up a Google AdWords campaign and spend just a few pounds a day.

With lots of different digital marketing options now available, it’s easy to find yourself spending a lot of time and money on all the various digital channels. As a small business, the trick to avoiding this is to focus on the one or two digital channels that work for your business.

Invest in what it takes to make your business profitable, and avoid spreading your resources across multiple digital channels. If you find that digital marketing is beyond your expertise you can turn to a digital consultancy or agency instead.

Print is often thought of as a costlier option. Billboards and direct mail campaigns aren’t cheap, after all, and it can be more difficult to measure their success and understand their value.

However, a unique benefit of print is how people tend to view it. Research says that 82% of people trust advertisements in print mediums better than those online. So, if it aligns with your target audience, you might consider one or two newspaper advertisements to help make your small business more reputable and trustworthy.

Putting together a budget for your marketing mix can be challenging. Regardless of the size of your budget, it is important you plan how to spend on marketing.

Pick your goal, write out a 12-month advertising plan and determine which advertising channels are most effective for your business. Which channels deliver the best lead quality? Which channels have historically performed the best for your own niche? Use industry benchmarks to assess your available options.

The most important part of working out how to balance your print and digital marketing is experimentation. Testing things for yourself will inform your marketing model better than any consultancy ever could, allowing you to see what works and what doesn’t as it happens in real time.

So, research and learn as much as you can, take advice and then go out and do something. Know your business and know your audience, and from there, the answers become clear.

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by, a leading UK trade printer. From business cards and leaflets, to calendars and roller banners, works closely with designers and creative agencies to provide high quality printed products.

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