Be honest – do you read as much as you like or as you should? If knowledge is power then it’s probably safe to assume most of us drown under today’s seemingly unstoppable assault of information, emails, missives and direct marketing messages.
Progress and the ability to adapt are, of course, vital for any business and essential for any profession wanting to continually raise its game. And yet there is a terrible tendency among some marketers (relax, I did say “some’) to want to throw out the baby with the bath water.
Despite what some of the bright young things might love to tell us – everything new isn’t the “holy grail” and everything old is by no means redundant.
Take print as an example. Digital and online was the answer; it was the knight in a shining white PDF that would answer all of our marketing challenges; it would allow us to wax lyrical to the finance director as to just how clever we were in stretching hard-pressed marketing budgets, and, even better, it would enable us to turn artwork around and have it live in days rather than weeks (although with that has sadly come the demise of the marketing brief).
And, perhaps most worryingly, some steamed ahead assuming that whatever they sent their clients or customers in digital format would be consumed by rabid speed readers without a life and who were permanently attached to a PC, laptop or tablet device.
I’m not sure about you but I really don’t want to go home after another long day staring at a computer screen and spend hours online researching a holiday or buying a new set of garden furniture.
I freely admit I ignore or delete a vast amount of the information that is now delivered to me in digital format. I am selective as never before and I know when I went information online and when I want it delivered to me in a more conventional format. And I’m quite sure I’m not alone.
Online has its place, of course it does. And for the most part, it offers us access to information, advice and resources in an exciting and empowering way no other generation has enjoyed.
But there remains a place for the good old-fashioned piece of printed marketing literature. There are good reasons why some of the country’s most successful and visionary businesses and brands have retained brochures and catalogues while, at the same time, ensuring their online presence is effective, efficient and productive. They don’t see these as exclusive but as an integrated part of their business development strategy.
Catalogues and brochures are proven, when produced well, to drive customer traffic in store, online or to the call centre.
Here’s one example. It’s by no means a robust piece of research but it does demonstrate a valuable point. We had a travel client who wanted to dispense with its brochure and put everything online.
This wasn’t a company packing you off for two weeks lying by a pool on the Costa del Sol; it was a specialist in a journey that consistently tops those lists of “things to do before you die”. We did a straw poll of around 20 people, asking them if they would want to read a brochure when considering this trip or if they would be just as happy making their decision based on online content.
We deliberately approached those in their 20s, assuming this would be the age group most driven online when making decisions about travel. Without exception, we got the same answer. If they wanted a weekend in Barcelona or a week sitting on a beach they would just go ahead and do their own thing. But for a complex trip such as this, they would all prefer to look at a brochure, at least in the earlier stages of a decision-making process.
As I said, by no means a scientific survey but what it does demonstrate is the need to always examine carefully how purchasing decisions are made and to never just assume that because it’s “new” – or it’s the way everyone else is doing it – that it’s right.
The good, old-fashioned brochure, catalogue or newsletter can still be hugely powerful in developing customer relationships and should never be discarded as an option based simply on cost or because it makes life “easier”.