How To Use Print Ads To Build Awareness

The “Print is dead” mantra is becoming a tired concept. While advertising always has its challenges, print is a medium that has weathered the storm despite pressure from other channels.

By C&EN Media Group

If you’ve spent any time in marketing, science or otherwise, you’ve noticed digital seems to be the end-all and be-all these days. And while it can be an effective strategy, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s just one piece in a larger puzzle.

Another important tool in a science marketer’s toolbox—print— can get a bad rap. Everyone is so focused on the power of the web, they’ve forgotten why print has been around for hundreds of years, and why it has remained relevant even in the potential shadow of other formats such as radio and television.

Hard copy can do things and touch people in ways that other media cannot. Harnessing the power of this medium to build brand awareness can have a profound effect on your science marketing campaigns, and we’ll outline how right now!

 

~ What print ads should be used for ~

Addressing your audience directly

As a science marketer, your audience is already fairly specific, so you want to go where they go. Targeting a specific audience can be a very powerful way to create brand awareness… if done right. Don’t restrict yourself to publications with a broad reach. Get specific and look for those that speak to a specialized segment of your audience, especially if you have a small budget.

Communicating specifics

Print ads are also a great way to communicate with your targeted audience regarding specifics of your product or service. You’ve got the space and, as we’ll see, you’ve got their attention. Use the opportunity that print affords to go deeper than just your company name and logo, and focus on the specifics of how your product can solve the reader’s problem(s). It’s these specifics that will get the audience interested, and move them to the next component of your campaign.

Motivating your audience to act

Think of print as the driving force that creates desire, motivates action, and moves your target audience further down the sales funnel. Your ads should catch the reader’s eye but not neglect the reason for your overall campaign goal, be it brand awareness or making a sale. Print ads are most effective when they’re treated as the doorway to the other pieces of your campaign, like a landing page, unique discount code, or brand launch.

~ Campaign-specific reasons to use print ads ~

Now that we’ve looked at some general reasons why print ads should be used, let’s look at some more specific ways you can use print to build incredible brand awareness.

Capitalizing on cache

Print publications still hold a certain cache, especially among the scientists who have been reading them throughout their education and career. The prestige of scientific publications such as Journal of the American Chemical Society, Nature, or Science (just to name a few) bring with them an inherent trust. Legitimacy and importance can be communicated, not so much by what you say in your ad, but by where that ad appears.

Stimulating Attention

Digital is certainly a powerful medium for communication, but it can be overwhelming at times.

Print, on the other hand, is less invasive and, therefore, doesn’t come with the same filter that digital advertising has developed. It’s very much like a repetitive sound or a potent smell: your mind will eventually “get used” to them. But introduce a new stimulus, and your attention becomes focused in that direction. In a way that’s what print media has become —it’s not new by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly is novel when compared with the digital noise that has become commonplace.

Capitalizing on how the brain works

The ‘real’ experience that the physical media provides means it’s better at becoming part of memory

In 2009, Millward Brown conducted research on the effects of physical media as compared to digital. Their “research strongly suggests that greater emotional processing is facilitated by the physical material than the virtual.”

What does this mean for you? Millward Brown goes on to explain: “The ‘real’ experience that the physical media provides means it’s better at becoming part of memory. [Physical media] generates more emotion, which should help to develop more positive brand associations. The real experience is also internalized, which means the materials have a more personal effect, and therefore should aid motivation.”

While the physicality of the print media format can have a profound effect on your target audience, how you present the message in that format can have an equally profound effect. Brute force, “Buy my product!” strategies are often met with (conscious or subconscious) resistance in the minds of readers. More subtle approaches, like storytelling, can penetrate to places in the brain beyond where “Sell, sell, sell!” stops. Print media, when packaged correctly, packs a one-two-punch.

~ Put print to use in your ad campaigns ~

The “Print is dead” mantra is thankfully becoming a tired concept. While advertising always has its challenges, print is a medium that has weathered the storm despite pressure from other channels. Because there are simply more options and tools at a marketer’s disposal, print won’t necessarily be front-and-center in a campaign, but it will always be (and should always be) a strong component of any marketing strategy. Use it to good effect and watch your brand recognition soar.

We want to hear from you:

Have you had a good experience using print media in your scientific marketing campaigns? Tell us in the comments section.

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