Digital v/s print - why the debate continues.
13th March 2014

Recently a good friend and a ceo of startup company in India called me for some advise. His question was whether he should invest his limited marketing budget on print marketing i.e. ads in magazines etc or do a digital strategy spread ie. seo, social etc. His company is in the construction industry, construction materials specifically.

The basic premise of the question is incorrect. Its not a matter of choosing one over the other.

When someone tries to make a choice between print and digital their basic premise is incorrect. The incorrect premise is 'Which is better?'. Of course there is no right answer. If you had to answer this question, gun to head, the answer would be - it depends.

Factors that affect choice between digital and print

  • Age / Seniority of target audience - Youth, Working professionals, CEOs etc.
  • Social profile of target audience - Students, working professionals, middle management, CEOs etc.
  • Type of industry - IT smart industry or IT dumb industry; Corporations or small vendors.
  • Your budget - Print can be cheaper on narrow targets but very expensive on broad campaigns and Digital vice versa.

And there are many other minor and major factors which your agency should brief you on.

Ad Hoc approach will not work. A planned campaign is always the best option.

Implicit in my friend's question was the ad hoc nature of the campaign. He intended to do small initiatives here and there. An overarching strategy was missing. Segmentation was missing. Power of complimentary campaigns was missing i.e. print and digital working in tandem to give a whole is greater than the parts effect.

The idea is to identify components from both print and digital and combine them in such a way as to get the maximum impact.

Why the debate continues.

Inspite of all the material out there, executives like my friend, tend to go for disjointed options. Perhaps the perception is that a planned strategy might be too costly or they might feel better control by choosing the marketing components themselves. But what they gain in better control they will lose in efficacy of the efforts.

Another factor that affects these decisions is the generational gap. Younger executives are more inclined to digital and older executives towards print. Each one misses the benefits of the other simply due to their individual perspectives. When we sit with older clients we promote digital options aggressively but we never dismiss the print options. And we always emphasize print options to the younger executives as well.

In conclusion, this post came out of a phone call that retouched the debate of print v/s digital and got me thinking. I hope that I have been able to convince my friend to take a more balanced, planned approach and whatever the choices not dismiss one over the other.



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