Guest Post by Clare McDermott

“Print? Really?”

Chief Content OfficerThat was the reaction of many of my colleagues when I told them I was taking on a new role as editor of Chief Content Officer, a print magazine published by The Content Marketing Institute and Junta42. After all, marketing hipsters these days are squawking about the latest social media tools—from figuring out Quora to understanding the influence of Open Graph.

Print magazines, I was told, are like the David Hasselhoff of the marketing world.

The truth is this: Print is just another tactic in the toolbox. When print magazines are executed as part of a well thought out strategy, they offer clear advantages over the digital portfolio of tools.

First, some stats. A study released by MarketingProfs and Junta42 last September showed that among B2B marketers, only 42% use print magazines in their portfolio of content marketing tactics. To be honest, I was surprised adoption was even that high. Top content tactics included:

Content marketing tactics and adoption rates:

Social media (excluding blogs) 79%
Articles 78%
In-person events 62%
E-newsletters 61%
Case studies 55%



What was particularly interesting about the survey results, however, was the extent to which marketers were either confused about or just plain dissatisfied with the tactics in their toolbox. Guess what? Social media, with the highest adoption rate of 79%, also suffered from the lowest effectiveness ratings by marketers. Social media was rated as effective by only 31% of marketers who used the tactic. (Keep in mind, low effectiveness ratings can mean either true dissatisfaction or simply confusion about how to measure effectiveness.) Podcasts fared even worse: only 28% of podcast users rated the medium as effective.

Print magazines, while suffering from a relatively low adoption rate of 42%, managed to break 50% on the effectiveness scale. Half of those who use print magazines find them to be an effective tool to support their marketing goals. Only five content marketing tactics rated above print magazines. It’s true! The highest-rated content tactic was in-person events, with 72% of users rating the tactic as effective.

What do print magazines offer that is different?

  • Leisurely browsing: When you send out an e-newsletter, chances are good your audience is going to read it while they are in full-on, make-it-fast work mode. Will you grab their attention with all the surrounding digital noise? Magazines are more likely to be carried home and browsed. Perhaps read on the train or over lunch. You are catching your audience at a different moment (and for that reason, should offer content that is more entertaining).
  • Email fatigue: Let’s face it: we are at war with our inboxes. When I open my inbox after a long hiatus, I use the delete key pretty vigorously. Some companies are fighting this trend by moving back to the print newsletter to complement their digital activities.
  • Tactile, visual richness: For certain products or services in particular, print magazines offer rich photography and sophisticated design that is hard to duplicate in digital form.
  • Print as a reward: For many, print magazines are the exclusive reward for certain special groups. For example, Ernst & Young’s award-winning Connections magazine is dedicated to the firm’s vast and valuable alumni network.

And in case you’re still not convinced and have problems separating from your iPad, Chief Content Officer is available in digital form as well. After all, we may be print evangelists, but this is a digital world, baby! If you’d like to check it out, you can subscribe here!

About Clare McDermott:

Clare McDermott founded SoloPortfolio in 2007 on the premise that professional service firms need support from marketers with financial and operational work experience. Clare holds an MBA in Marketing and Finance from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College and an MA in American Literature from Washington University. She is passionate about writing, design, hiking, and virtual entrepreneurship. You can find her blogging about content marketing for professional service firms at Studious or follow her @soloportfolio.

 Tags: Guest Posts Marketing Strategy and Planning

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