When it comes to marketing, modern business have an unprecedented range of tools and techniques at their disposal. There’s a temptation to fixate on the newer technologies at the expense of the more traditional ones.

But in many cases, this is a mistake. Printed materials are often just as effective as a well-orchestrated campaign on social media. It all depends on the kind of product or service being marketed.


Why is a combination important?

A study conducted by Ipsos and Neurons Inc attempted to quantify the brain’s reaction to different forms of communication. Two-hundred participants in Sweden and Denmark were exposed to marketing materials from a range of companies. They were fitted with eye-tracking and EEG brain-scanning devices.

The conclusion was a simple one: that the effect of digital and printed adverts in combination is greater than the sum of the parts. According to the study: “People can focus more easily on a printed advertisement. In that medium, longer and more detailed messages can be communicated.”

The strategy recommended was one of establishing a beachhead in the consumer’s subconscious through printed materials, and then building on that through repeated exposure to digital advertisements.

Digital adverts in isolation create greater ‘cognitive load’. We’re bombarded with so much data that we can’t process it, and the result is stress. It’s often the case that digital ads are placed in contexts that aren’t easily controlled. The message, therefore, is not so easily absorbed in its entirety.

What types of print marketing are important?

Different varieties of print have markedly different effects. For maximum exposure, it’s worth pursuing a range of them. You can tweak the balance according to the needs of your business.


The traditional flyer is among the most straightforward kind of printed material. Whether crammed through a letterbox or handed out in the street, they’re economical and effective, and an opportunity to get information across while catching the eye. Certain kinds of business, whose potential clientele is concentrated in a few neighbourhoods, will get excellent mileage from flyers.

Business cards

A business card is always going to be effective. They’ll establish your brand’s aesthetic, and provide an invaluable tool when it comes to person-to-person networking. Your clients and collaborators will judge you on the strength of your business card, so make sure that you always have plenty to hand out. The largest printing company in the UK, instantprint, prints thousands of business cards every day – the business card has never been in better health.


Larger printed materials can make a difference from a greater difference. Promotional displays in stores will help to convert passing foot traffic into in-store visitors, and a printed poster can provide a centrepiece. Posters can also help to catch the eye at trade shows and other big events.

How is digital evolving in retail marketing?

There’s also been some crossover between the two types of marketing. Digital signage demonstrates this nicely. You’ll find dozens of them in city centres, displaying advertisements and information. Digital signs are more expensive to install in the first place, but they confer several significant advantages. Firstly, they can be updated cheaply and remotely, which means up-to-the-minute information, and labour savings when it comes to installing new posters. Moreover, digital signs can be animated – and thus they can catch the eye in a way that static materials can’t.

In the future, digital signage might be able to provide live feeds of events around the world, thanks to the rollout of 5G and other technologies. Moreover, digital signage is already been tailored to suit the needs of passers-by, just like in Minority Report