Digital vs. Print Marketing: the Wise Grasshopper vs. its Protege.

Digital Online Marketing Commerce Sale Concept

I don’t care what the digital experts say.

Opening your mailbox to find something glossy, shiny and postmarked just for you, is 200 times more gratifying than seeing a subject line like “Cheryl, feed your whole family tonight for $20.” pop up in your Gmail feed alongside a reminder to pay your rent at the end of the month.

Sure, digital marketing is easier and more cost effective than print marketing. But is it more effective?

To put it another way, isn’t it more gratifying to get that same message in your mailbox, with shiny gloss and a cut-out coupon you can hand right to the cashier at the new restaurant down the street?

Yes, yes it is. And that is why print marketing is here to stay.

In 2014, 7 in 10 Americans agreed: print marketing is just more personal and, because of that, better at getting them to pull out their wallets. That being said, more and more business owners are using digital marketing (social media, email campaigns, paid ads, etc..) to attract millennial consumers.

If digital marketing is print marketing’s humble protege, then print marketing is the wise sage, the grasshopper.

And this grasshopper is still waxing on.

This is exactly why we reached out to the experts – from digital marketing to traditional print –where they stand on the most profitable form of marketing in 2017.

Their answers might surprise you. Here is what they had to say:

brand chandler

1.  Brad Chandler, CEO of Express Homebuyers USA

One of the keys to print marketing efforts that many companies miss or don’t understand is you have to have to send a relevant message that connects with your potential customer. And you have to send it to the “right people,” as in the people who would be interested in hearing that message or who have the problem for which you have a solution. Get those elements wrong, and sure, you will conclude print marketing doesn’t work. However, the same mistake is deadly in digital marketing as well.

2.  Maria Lilly, President of MJ Lilly Associates, LLC

maria lilly

“In a sea of digital communications, organizations need a way to stand out.  This has made the return to print a differentiating strategy.  One of my clients, a multinational technology firm, uses a print version of its thought leadership to reach a group of its most important clients – C-Suite executives.  The ‘book’ is elegantly designed and printed to make an impression yet sized like an iPad for convenient carry and usage.  The company’s CEO loves it, and has mentioned it’s a  conversation starter with his peers.”

3.  Alex Novkov, Marketing Expert with Kanbanizealex

Print marketing is not dead yet, but its days are coming to an end. This is due to the fact that measuring ROI is harder compared to digital marketing. Nonetheless, buyer behavior has changed and most of the printed materials are being ignored. However, print marketing still has a place in the marketing funnel. Retailers such as supermarkets and local stores can benefit of delivering newsletters to the mailboxes of potential customers because when it comes to cheaper stocks, people are more likely to accept an offer (e.g. discount) without doing a thorough research online.

4.  Stephen Jeske, Senior Content Strategist at CanIRank


Reports of print marketing’s death are greatly exaggerated! As someone who spends his working days online, I’m surprised at the number of printed flyers I receive every week. Keep in mind that I live in a rural area, so this may have an impact. Big box retailers are the ones who are primarily using this channel. Interestingly, there are no coupons or any other obvious way to track results.

I’m not convinced they know whether this channel performs, but I suspect they are reluctant to be the first to drop it.

stefan5.  Stefan Zugor, CEO of

Print marketing is not dead, but it’s changed. Think about what happens when you get a letter through the post. 9 times out of 10, you open it, UNLESS it’s very clearly a sales letter or spammy promotional flier. People can tell these days from looking at how it’s packaged.

If however, you make the letter LOOK like a real letter from someone a person might know, or the contents of it is unknown, then lots of people will open it. I know I open letters when I get them, but I CAN’T say the same for every EMAIL I get. People aren’t stupid, we can tell a spam email a mile away, and usually we can tell a junk letter miles away too, unless it looks like a real letter. Make the way it’s presented more ‘normal’ and make your copy INSIDE the letter COMPELLING so people actually read it.

One thing all these experts can agree on is that digital media is so saturated with competition that it’s hard to make a lasting impression. Print provides that coupon you put in your purse, the ad you put on your refrigerator, or the page from your magazine you ripped out for future reference.

Print adds to tangible personalization (not to say digital doesn’t do the same). While effective and less costly to put into place, digital marketing is designed to feel “personal” for a lotof people.

So, the question is, how personal can it really be?

Bottom line

Utilizing your company’s online presence is vital in 2017, but so is a marketing approach that works best for your business and your target prospect. In other words, if you’re a financial advisor targeting baby boomers, a direct mail campaign might be just what you need! If you’re a new medical practice or restaurant on the block, test the waters to see what works best for you.
The answer (like the ones here) just might surprise you as well.



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