Tag Archives: #graphic design

The Lost Marketing Art of Ink on Paper

Time to temper our love affair with pixels on a screen?

In a pre-pixilated world in the not too distant past, Ink on Paper ruled the world of marketing.

Capabilities brochures, annual reports and other print collateral – complete with blind-embossing, foil-stamping, perfect binding, die-cutting and spot-varnished photos – served to explain, sell and educate. Graphic designers used drafting boards, rulers and glue. They understood the difference between a sheet-fed and web offset printing press, could distinguish between thermography and engraving, and spent hours studying paper stock samples, typefaces and PMS color charts.

In the days of Ink on Paper, marketers reviewed press proofs; they hand-delivered advance copies of newly printed materials to their CEOs, and measured ROI based on Business Reply Card volume. Printed words and images did not move on the page. Content stood on its own, linked to nothing. And the US Postal Service was profitable.

There’s no denying the time and cost efficiencies of our online world. We now communicate more broadly, more precisely, more rapidly and with greater marketing insight than we could ever have imagined 20 years ago.

But we’ve lost a few things in our exodus from Ink on Paper:

Visceral Impact – Pixels on a screen have no weight, no dimension, no texture, no smell. Ink on Paper places something physical into a person’s hands. They open the cover and turn its pages. They can scribble notes in the margin, or rip out a photo. It’s a sensory experience that communicates on human terms, and that cannot be replicated by a PDF downloaded and created on a laser copier.

Personality – The range of creative expression using pixels is limited by the fixed dimensions of a flat glass screen. Ink on Paper lives on a canvas of unlimited graphic possibilities, in terms of size, shape, color and physical features. No scrolling is required to appreciate the design. It provides an opportunity to stand out from the crowd, to express yourself more effectively, and to make an impression that’s likely to be remembered.

Permanence – People scroll through computer screens at hyper-speed. The volume of information is unlimited, and no intellectual commitment is required of viewers. Ink on Paper moves in slow motion, forcing readers to pay closer attention to its content. Print materials possess presence and permanence, suggesting that the people and company who produced them actually exist, have nothing to hide and can be trusted.

Craftsmen in any field are quick to embrace new tools and methods that enhance their results and professional satisfaction. They also understand the importance of sticking with tactics that work well. Seasoned marketers who have thrown the baby out with the bathwater in their rush to digital communications, as well as more recent arrivals to the marketing profession who have always lived in a paperless world, would be well served to reconsider Ink on Paper as a medium.

No marketing communications program is truly integrated without that capability.

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Brochureware Is Not a Dirty Word

Brochureware is the term used, often with derogatory marketing implications, to describe websites consisting entirely of static pages that promote a company’s products and services, people and value proposition. Most brochureware websites contain no content that requires updating, and other than perhaps a “Contact Us” form, no interactive capabilities. Brochureware simply sits online, like a printed brochure sits on a coffee table.

A big problem for many companies, from a brand marketing perspective, is that:

  1. Their well-intentioned graphic design firm has provided them with a website with functions requiring new and refreshed content. These functions might include: “News”; “In the News”; “Upcoming Events”; “Thought Leadership”; “Case Studies”; “White Papers”; “Webinars”, etc.
  2. Although they understand the potential marketing and SEO value of those website functions, companies often lack the motivation, resources or raw material to supply them with new, relevant, engaging content on a consistent basis.
  3. As a result, website visitors might see…a company blog with only 3 posts over the past year; no press releases issued since 2009; a “Coming Soon” graphic for the In the News section; an archive of quarterly newsletters with many issues skipped; a 2 year-old white paper that’s no longer relevant; and zero upcoming events scheduled.
  4. Based on these impressions, website visitors will likely conclude one or all of the following:
  • This company is out of business.
  • This company doesn’t really care what clients and prospects think of them.
  • If this company doesn’t care what I think of them, how well will they serve my needs?

Having seriously out-of-date or missing content on your website is akin to showing up to a first meeting with a prospective client wearing no shoes and the same shirt you’ve worn for the past 6 months, sporting a jacket with lapels 4 inches wide. Based on first impressions, that prospect has already crossed you off his list.

If your company’s website is incurring brand damage as a result of outdated content…and if it has no intention of building disciplines to consistently feed this online beast…then your best course of action is clear:

TELL YOUR GRAPHIC DESIGN FIRM TO REMOVE ALL WEBSITE FUNCTIONS THAT REQUIRE REGULAR UPDATING.

Your company will be better served – from a brand perspective – by having a website featuring 100% static brochureware, than by having a website that aspires to be something it’s not.

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