Say more with print: Posterboy Printing

This article was authored by Posterboy Printing account manager Daniel Edwards

The speed and ease with which we access information today is incredible – we have become masters at scanning massive amounts of information very quickly.

However, I don’t think that evolution works that fast. It took us thousands of years to get to our current form, and that isn’t going to change across the course of a decade. I haven’t noticed my hands increasing in size to help me handle the increasing size of smartphones. In the same way, I don’t expect my neural wiring has changed to cope with scrolling through social media feeds.

Rather, I think it is something known as the ‘Rebound Effect’, where the easier something becomes to do, the more we do it. Any expected time saving gains from new efficiency technology is diminished because we do it more because it is so easy. This is how smartphones are simultaneously great time saving and time-wasting devices.

With such easy access to digital media, we consume it quickly, but remember comparably little of it.

Scott McDonald, a professor at Columbia University with a PHD in psychology from Harvard said, “When one is reading on the screen, it’s sort of like speed reading in information-retrieval mode. There’s something about it being on the screen that signals to people to hurry”.

Screen-based reading, he said, is “very much about ‘search and destroy’”.

This perspective is supported by a 2013 study, Why the Brain Prefers Paper, which found that people retain around 10 per cent more information when reading from paper than from a screen.

Ironically while screens are hugely engaging, they are hugely distracting. They give us access to masses of information and entertainment. For example, today a Google search for “Shakespeare” brings up 166,000,000 results.

In comparison print only contains a small amount of information. Print’s slogan could be, “Just this one thing”.

By being finite, it imposes order, and allows people to settle down and read about something, without distraction. In our relentlessly interconnected world, the fact that paper only contains a limited amount of content is an advantage.

The limited space for information creates a medium that people are better able to focus on, giving marketers the opportunity to say more about their topic. To go an inch wide and a mile deep. The communication is one on one between the reader and the brand, and they have as much time to dwell on the message as they need, and it is easy for them to return where they left off.

Neilson Consumer research found magazine reading times between 45 to 77 minutes, compared to 15 seconds for website engagement and one second for digital banner advertisements. Digital, radio and television media in comparison is a rushed experience, limiting the length of a message. The longer dwell time possible through print builds a stronger message and greater brand recall, and a more effective communication.

Read in comfort

Print marketing often enters the audience’s home and is consumed in a relaxed and safe environment. Print doesn’t need to be charged, or in a case, or have connection, or turned up. Print just needs to be there; it makes no demands and is available at the reader’s convenience.

If you look away from a screen, you’ll miss the content, if you’re talking during the audio, you’ll miss it. Print in contrast, you can be interrupted in any and every way, and can always go back to the same point. All of which makes reading from a page a relaxed and comfortable experience.

Again, this potential for longer dwell time is an opportunity for extended one-to-one dialogue between the brand and the reader, to engage, inspire and promote action. Because the longer the audience spends engaging with the brand the more likely they are to make a purchase from that brand.

Making a buying decision

When a customer is close to making a purchase decision is the right time to use information in heavy print. This is especially important if you are selling high ticket items. People won’t make a significant financial investment lightly and will need an in-depth dialogue with the brand. Print is an excellent format to do that with because it allows for the longer dwell times.

For example, in 2013, Australia Post sponsored a survey that questioned over 9,000 age diverse Australians about their media preferences at different stages of the buying process. Across all age brackets, including 25 and under, print was consistently two (‘direct mail’ and ‘flyers and catalogues’) of the top four mediums that consumers rely on when making a final purchasing decision.

When customers are really digging into the details about a product to decide if it is really what they want, or to learn more about what they have just bought, print is the best way to communicate a lot of that information.

Print is also a physical, tactile item held in sensitive hands. Brands can build nonverbal tactile communication through the materials used. Creating print requires the actual expense of assets to create, it is a moment to ‘walk the walk’.

A brand can definitively communicate its commitment to sustainability by using visibly recycled paper. That has an undeniable authenticity that saying you support sustainability does not.

Heavier paper stocks, or unusual embellishments all increase the perceived value of the printed piece, and by extension the value of the services on offer and the value the brand places on the customer.

Say more

As such, when talking to print buyers about print that will be held by the reader, learn about where it will sit in the buying process.

Typically print sits either at the start of the process, or at the end of it. If you learn that the piece that will be used close to the buying decision, then encourage the print buyer to take advantage of the position by saying more and including more information about their product.

A flyer going under a windscreen wiper isn’t a great candidate, but a multi-page pamphlet, or booklet has potential to become a valuable dog-eared reference piece that could be kept for years. Help them get the most out of their investment in print, by using that opportunity to be bold and say more.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.