Why most of your printed marketing materials are completely useless
Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow. In the 16th century, the Portuguese had to send a ship full of sailors on a three-year voyage around the world to settle once and for all that the Earth is round. The argument had been going on for about 2,000 years or so at that point. People are constantly challenged by the gaps between what they had always “known” or “wanted” to be true and what they can observe with their own senses. And now, I am here to tell you that the vast majority of your printed marketing materials aren’t even worth the paper they’re printed on. You’re website marketing strategy is more important. And here are three reasons why:
1. The marketplace has created a backlash against people who “sell.” Think about it… Marketing and advertising have become completely ubiquitous in our society and we’ve all developed a strong immunity to its effects. It’s not even that uncommon that public bathrooms be sponsored. We also find our personal and work spaces constantly being spammed through every possible opening including our mailboxes, phones, email accounts and even our driveways. How often do YOU take the time to carefully read other companies’ marketing? I’m going to be the answer is either “not very” or “not at all.” Our marketplace is adjusting itself and people who “sell” in the traditional sense are generally looked upon as cheesy, selfish, spammy or altogether irrelevant. And that folder full of high-gloss marketing collateral is likely destined for the circular file your client keeps under their desk.
2. The strength of a relationship is paramount, sometimes over the strength of the service. If you are a small business serving just about any industry/category/marketplace, there is a good chance that you are competing against a fair number of large firms who perform similar (if not identical) functions who offer deeper resources and a larger scope of service than you do. So why in the world would your customers hire you in the first place? Likely because they connect with you or someone on your team personally; because they consider you an expert and trust you to steer them in the right direction. They may also feel that, as a small firm, you will give them more custom attention and the flexibility to tailor your service to meet the needs of their business. If so, they feel this way because you demonstrated that during the sales cycle and NOT because they read it in your brochure.
3. Brochures don’t “qualify you” — your website marketing does. Prepare to be Googled early and often during the sales process. The quality of your printed piece does you no good when your website is the reference point that your customer is most likely to consume (and share) when qualifying you as a vendor/partner/service provider. And what may be even more telling is WHAT your prospects are most likely to look at on your website. The “marketing” pages of the site, the ones that describe the specific products/services being offered generally get very little attention when compared to pages like About Us, News, Blog, and Contact Us. Because About Us and Contact Us change very rarely, the logic follows that investing time in writing blogs or news releases will be much more profitable than investing the same time writing a new sell sheet or brochure.
Are there cases where printed materials are necessary? Absolutely. But those cases are becoming increasingly rare.