Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Does print still work for association marketing & communications?

As you know by now, I’m an advocate of many of the new digital communications tools. I’m also a strong proponent that associations  need to determine distribution platforms based on their  target audience(s).

So, I read with interest a Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch article saying that despite the prevalence of digital media, catalogs remain a huge part of retail business.

Here are some highlights of the story:
  • “The catalog continues to open new doors and opportunity for us,” said Jim Wright, senior vice president of marketing at Express. “We see a strong future for the catalog, with this being one of many ways that we communicate with our customer.” 
  • The numbers are remarkable, too. More than 12.5 billion catalogs were mailed to U.S. homes last year, according to the Direct Marketing Association, and 89.6 million Americans bought an item from those catalogs. 
  • Even younger shoppers, the least-likely customers to use printed media, are hip to the old-school format. The National Retail Federation recently reported that 15 percent of college shoppers plan to buy back-to-school items via catalog. Although the percentage might seem small, it has tripled since 2003. 
  • “The catalog is really a multichannel driver,” said Shawn Brown, vice president of creative services at SBC Advertising. “You’ve got a lot of Internet sales, a lot of people visiting stores because they saw it first in a catalog.” 
  • “As we think about our catalog business, we really don’t think about it as a separate business,” said Sharen Turney, CEO and president of Victoria’s Secret, in recent comments to analysts. “Our goal is to have one seamless experience from the customer point of view.” 
  • The Express catalog “drives customers into all of our channels, including mobile,” Wright said. “Associates often see customers come to the store with our direct mail and catalogs asking for specific merchandise.” 
So, as you review your content marketing and promotions strategies, don’t automatically eliminate print … it may be the tool that works for a key portion of your audience …. And, remember, build an integrated marketing plan that delivers desired results.


  1. With the right marketing strategies, printed materials can still be effective. It's just a matter of finding the right strategy for the job.

  2. Thanks for your comments Xander. Yes, printed materials can work as part of overall strategy and depending on the target audiences and their preferences.