Businesses and associations communicate with their clients and members in different ways. For many, it’s through print. Monthly calendars, flyers, magazines and newsletters are designed, printed and then delivered to the audience. This process isn’t cheap. Even in this simple scenario it requires a designer, a printer and a delivery person. However, when it is done right, print is a proven way to engage with an audience. Many readers appreciate that they can hold a newsletter or other printed material and flip through it with their hands and eyes, at their convenience and without a complicated device interfering with their reading. Print also has staying power. A hardcopy newsletter or other communication will often sit around the house or office for a while. It might even find a place on the coffee table where it gets picked up and read by several people over a period of weeks or months. In any event, staying power means a printed piece is more likely to be read. And when something gets read, it means the message you were trying to send actually reaches its recipient. This is the whole point in sending a message, isn’t it? You want it heard. Print does that quite well.
Other businesses prefer communicating almost exclusively by electronic means. Email, web pages, downloadable documents, webinars, and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ fit into this category. Although often considered to be “free” there are certainly costs associated with electronic communication. Time is money, as they say, and with electronic communication you still have to design and/or write your message, then figure out a way to get it read by your audience. And while the electronic methods identified above are quite efficient in getting a message to a recipient quickly, there are questions surrounding open rates, read rates and response rates of electronic compared to print. Don’t get me wrong, I love electronic communication. Remember, we design and build websites, create HTML newsletter templates, help people publish eBooks, and generate infographics, just to name a few of the most popular digital services we’ve offered our clients since these tools became viable. But here’s something you may want to remember as you’re planning to hit “send” on your latest email blast or other digital communication… not everybody uses email or has digital mastered. Further, no matter how clean you operate your email marketing or messaging, you’re definitely going to lose some of it to the spam filters. Your message will also fail to find those readers who can’t follow the links you want them to click on, or who file your message away for a later viewing that never happens. You know what I’m talking about because you’re guilty of this too.
So obviously both methods have their pluses and minuses, but what is the best way to ensure that your message reaches your intended audience? Use both print and digital.
I know what you’re thinking. Of course Tom wants us to print our newsletter because he’s in the printing business. While it’s true that we’re in the printing business, we’re also in the communications business. And that means what we really want is to find out which method of reaching out to and communicating with your customers or members is best suited to your situation. We want to help you fine-tune your methods of delivery so that your message is heard, giving you the best return on investment possible. When we do this, you become a loyal client.
We’ve also found that the most effective means for our clients to communicate with their customers and members is a question that must be answered by the end user. How the recipients — your clients and members, not you — prefer things is paramount. And since everybody is different, you will need to use multiple methods if you want to reach everybody or even close to everybody. At a minimum, this means doing a mix of print and electronic. How much of each depends upon your readers, their preferences and their skill-sets.
Do you have to send every subscriber or member a printed newsletter? Not likely. One way to fine tune this aspect of your communication is to provide an easy way for those who favor electronic to opt out of receiving your printed piece. And vice versa for your eNewsletter. If you give your readers a way to tell you how they want to be communicated with, you’ll have a much better line of communication. It makes sense, doesn’t it?