For B2Bs, Print Production Will Always Matter
There’s something special about holding a tangible piece of content in your hands. Living with the pervasiveness of the internet and a plethora of digital content to consume, people are once again remembering the emotional power of paper, and print production is making a comeback—especially for B2Bs.
Maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe it’s a return to the norm.
Or maybe, it’s just the most effective way to reach target audiences at this very moment. To this day, mail maintains a significantly higher response rate (4.4%) than online ads (0.12%).
So, what’s going on with B2B print production?
Young People Prefer Reading Print
Young people, in particular, are fond of print. People aged 18 to 29 have the highest print readership of any group. Having grown up surrounded by television, the Internet, and digital media, they prefer physical copies of books more than any other generation. A surprising 77% of young people consider digital content to be less trustworthy than print because it can be altered with very little effort, is often disingenuous, or it lacks basic fact-checking. To them, paper materials simply feel more honest.
Meanwhile, 73% of B2B sales transactions involve millennial decision makers. Putting the effort in and producing a professional print brochure or booklet can go a long way to helping your brand stand out amongst competitors.
Digital and Print Partnerships Make Mail Matter
Beyond the aesthetics and marketing experiences millennials prefer, printing has become more affordable and more accessible.
Digitized Marketing Mail
The United States Postal Service is a great example of increased affordability and accessibility. Did you know that through the USPS, your marketing mail pieces can be digitized and forwarded directly to your targeted audiences’ cell phones—For free?
Through notifications, B2B business owners can preview their mail, before the mailman drops them off and it all gets sorted. The service, called Informed Delivery, is free and empowers marketers to attach a clickable link to digitized mail, allowing brands to use traditional mail marketing techniques to bring audiences into modern digital marketing funnels.
Follow-up with a Postcard
B2B business leaders are busy. They have factories to run, shipments to sort out, and supply chains to navigate. It’s no wonder marketers’ cold calls go unreturned and emails unopened when trying to reach out to them.
But, that doesn’t have to be the end of the road for a prospect.
Mailchimp, a well-known marketing email software company, allows brands to quickly build customized marketing lists and email templates. The company’s new marketing platform includes a feature that allows users to send printed postcards to their contacts, allowing marketers to quickly and easily reach prospect mailboxes—even when emails and cold calls are being ignored.
The union of digital and print makes another amazing feature possible for print marketing. Print-on-demand is the process of producing one-off prints as they’re requested instead of large runs of hundreds or thousands of copies. Print-on-demand allows for every piece of mail to be fully customized for each recipient.
For instance, a B2B steel buyer could visit a steel manufacturer website and look at information regarding their galvanized flatroll and steel ingots. The manufacturer could then follow up with the potential buyer with a customized brochure focused only on flatroll steel and the ingots the buyer had viewed previously.
This process is easily automated with software and helps to save the sender’s money by reducing waste, and save the recipient’s time by only providing information they have shown an interest in.
New Technology Keeps Mail Out of the Trash
B2Bs are no different from any other company that gets a ton of junk mail. They throw a lot of it away. Studies suggest 44% of marketing mail is tossed in the trash without being looked at. But, there are things that can be done to combat that. Take this Steel Dynamics mail piece we created. The piece includes a 6-inch screen, full audio, and player controls. The chance of a customer throwing this away without engaging is extremely low.
Modern Mail Can Include Analytics
A modern downside of print marketing is the lack of analytical data that can be gathered. However, that’s not the case anymore.
Can QR Codes be Useful?
For a long time, almost nobody used QR codes. They were clunky and required people to open third party apps. But that’s changed. Most new phones automatically sense QR codes and redirect users to the web pages they link to.
That’s a good thing too, because QR codes can do a lot for marketers.
QR codes allow for mail recipients to directly engage with the mail they receive. Add the proper analytics tags to QR codes and marketers are suddenly able to track who and how many recipients engage with their mail. Combining that information with digital engagement information can build a much more complete profile of what your customers want. This can be especially useful when marketing to B2Bs, where each prospect can be worth tens- or hundreds-of-thousands of dollars.
Augmented Reality is the Future
Other technologies, like augmented reality (AR), can be used to stunning effect and can have benefits that extend far beyond basic marketing and analytics. AR offers the opportunity to go viral with amazing video effects and cool packaging design. Check out an AR-enhanced mail piece from Jaguar below:
<iframe width=”1280″ height=”720″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/O6uASgUy9yQ” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
And AR is already being used in B2B sales and marketing. Check out this write up by Forbes that features three B2B AR use cases.
Coupons Add Value and Analytics
Another simple way analytics can be included in mail pieces is by using the most classic form of mail marketing: coupons. Custom coupon codes can be sent to individuals and are easily tracked so your brand can determine where your customers live and what they care most about.
While coupons aren’t often used in B2Bs, there are clever ways to offer free swag, discounts, or gifts to potential buyers that could entice them into buying your products. All the while, your offerings are laced with analytic codes enabling you to track who accepts your offer, where they live, and what type of B2B they manage.
Everything Old is New Again
Beyond new smartphones, few products care deeply about packaging design, flyer thickness, or eccentric varnishes. For many young people, they’ve never seen the amazing quality and creativity that a well thought-out, high-end print mailer can have. And, for those who have been around since before the world went digital, it may have been awhile since they’ve seen a mailer worth appreciating.
But, printers can do amazing things, many of which you may not even know about.
And when you consider the value every potential B2B customer holds, you have every reason in the world to make sure your B2B marketing materials stand out and are as impressive as money allows. And nine times out of ten, winning a single new customer will more than pay for the marketing costs.
Die-cutting is the process of cutting out text or shapes from printed literature. This can lead to amazing effects that provide double meanings when opened or closed. This Nichols Open House Invitation opens up to reveal the invitation information inside a house.
Beautiful colored foils can be added in as large or small amounts as needed. Foils come in numerous varieties including metallic, clear, and cold stamping, which is the process of using a UV dryer to attach a custom foil design to a seperate custom paper.
Paper isn’t just paper. Paper can be as thick or thin as you need. It can have a rough sandy texture or a smooth rubbery feel. For instance, a steel supplier may want to use a shiny metallic looking paper and an o-ring company may want to use paper that mimics the look and feel of their rubber products.
Coatings and Varnishes
Matte and glossy finishes only scratch the surface of the possible coatings for printed marketing literature. Varnishes can also be applied which can create stunning visual effects. Nichols created business cards for AccuTemp featuring a reticulation effect, which in the right light, reflects the logo across the card.
Not only is print not dead, it’s in the midst of a stunning revitalization. And B2Bs can benefit from the resurgence if they are willing to commit to it. AN 8.5×11 sheet of paper in the mail isn’t going to get anyone to purchase from you. But, a beautifully crafted custom brochure targeted directly at a customer? Now they’re interested.
Technology has made high quality print production more accessible, affordable, and customizable. Additionally, as younger generations begin making more B2B purchasing decisions, print production will increasingly regain its importance in the advertising and marketing realms.
Does your brand need help with mail or print marketing? If so, Nichols can help. Send me an email anytime at email@example.com or click the button below to get started.
- Resident B2B expert
- First agency position in 1997, joined Nichols in 2002
- Splits time between creative leadership and account service
- Remembers every detail about clients and their businesses
- Coffee connoisseur, music enthusiast and fair-weather runner