By Ayman Aly, senior regional marketing manager, Canon Middle East
Most organizations have one aim: to grow their company into a successful business. The key to this is marketing the brand and the evolution of digital technology in the past decade has exponentially increased the choice of marketing channels. In the highly competitive area of retail marketing, brand owners, creative agencies and Print Service Providers (PSPs) are increasingly having to justify brand investments by proving the value of different marketing formats. When it comes to the marketing budget, brands rightly want to make the most of every cent they spend.
Many organizations today look increasingly to online channels to grab the attention of their current and prospective customers, attracted by analytics, which can be used to calculate ROI. What some brand owners may not realize, however, is that contemporary campaign management tools can also effectively measure the impact of print, such as response rates to direct mail and printed marketing collateral. Print remains the backbone of any brand campaign, playing a critical role at every stage of the customer journey, from initial brand awareness, to first purchase, to nurturing long-term brand loyalty.
Agile digital communications
For brand owners, the appeal of digital marketing lies in its ability to adapt quickly to changing situations. In contrast to the long lead times of analog print, digital production technologies give print the same advantage, enabling PSPs to react quickly to tactical promotions or campaign adjustments, and offering brand owners the capability to adapt and personalize their print marketing collateral and produce selective amounts for short-term and highly targeted campaigns.
The key benefit of today’s on-demand promotional communications is agility to respond to campaign data. Using the latest digital print technology, a brand is able to use data to tailor communications, fine-tuning campaign messages to achieve maximum effectiveness when targeting potential customers, and small adjustments in targeting can be made relatively quickly and simply as the campaign evolves.
Cutting through with promotional print
Print is welcomed by consumers in an environment where digital marketing is increasingly interruptive and intrusive. With digital communication, it’s so easy for consumers to set up email inbox filters to move unwanted marketing messages into ‘junk’ or ‘clutter,’ or to automatically click the ‘delete’ button. In a progressively digital world, 70 percent of people agree that physical mail actually gives a better impression of the company that sent it than email.
As part of wider omnichannel campaigns, sending a customer a highly targeted, personalized direct mail is a powerful way to gain their attention and raise awareness of a brand. What might come as a surprise to brand owners is that customers actually like receiving direct mail with 48 percent regarding it as a good way for brands to connect with them. 
Another effective way of reaching customers is through transactional communications, such as invoices and statements. Brands can take advantage of these functional documents to cross-sell and up-sell by combining invoice data with promotional messages. It’s interesting to note that while the average recipient spends some 15 seconds looking at direct mail, they spend nearly three times that with a transactional marketing document.
Grabbing customers’ attention out of home
Print’s role in building awareness is not confined to the home environment. Another example of print’s unique role in raising brand awareness is outdoor displays.
Outdoor advertising continues to be one of marketing’s success stories; 83 percent recall seeing Out of Home (OOH) advertising within the last 30 minutes before shopping.  With 98 percent seeing an outdoor ad every week4, it’s an effective print application as it’s not something that can be ignored, avoided or blocked. Most of us positively welcome the engagement provided by OOH advertising, such as on public transport.
But outdoor marketing is no longer just a case of just pasting banners, posters and other promotional graphics. Greater sophistication in targeting, planning and analysis means that businesses have a larger and smarter suite of marketing tools as their disposal.
The value of print
Every brand should acknowledge and understand the role and value of print in wider brand marketing campaigns alongside digital platforms. Science has even shown that paper can be more impactful and memorable than digital. Direct mail requires 21 percent less cognitive effort to process than digital media, suggesting that it is both easier to understand and more memorable.
As a PSP, you can now offer a wider portfolio of digitally printed material than ever before in the promotional journey to raise initial awareness of a brand – from postcards to customized mailings to wayfinding and backlit signage. Collaborating with your client from the very start will ensure you are aligned on the campaign’s objectives, and allow you to showcase your whole portfolio of applications.
It has never been easier to prove the calculable value of print in complex marketing campaigns that take advantage of all available channels to engage the consumer. PSPs can now offer brands complete end-to-end solutions, devising and producing measurable marketing collateral that can power a brand from a standing start to a global bestseller.
More brands than ever are competing for shoppers’ attention – and advertisers are looking to Print Service Providers (PSPs) like you to help them cut through. To show what print can do in integrated brand campaigns today, Canon collaborated with designer, photographer and filmmaker Clive Booth to create a stunning array of promotional materials for the launch of the fictitious beauty brand, Elemental. This collaboration helps PSPs and their brand owner and agency clients to envisage how easy it is to integrate different printed applications to create a cohesive multi-channel campaign – resulting in one compelling brand story.