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Print vs. Digital: The Ultimate Partnership


By Pamela Simmons

Google the words, print dead and you’ll come up with countless articles, polls, and opinions in general, courtesy of many who are all too eager to shovel that last bit of dirt on the medium that has been the backbone of communication for century upon century.

It is human nature, when presented with two of anything, to immediately choose one. Chocolate vs. vanilla. Red Sox vs. Yankees. The book vs. the movie. It is human nature when digital moved into print territory, to feel the urge to choose which is better; which works better as an information source, and which works better as an advertising vehicle.

So as a marketer, what do you do? Do you jump on the bandwagon of a “digital only” campaign or do you dig your heels in and insist on print?

Got Lemonade?

Any marketing guru worth his or her salt will tell you to view your problems as opportunities; to turn your lemons into lemonade.

The protective and marine coatings industry in particular, sits comfortably in the middle of the print to digital conversion. The information technology field, for instance, is most likely further along into the acceptance of an all-digital world than are we, yet we are more digitally-evolved at the moment than many other lines of business.

Today companies claim generations of workers on their management teams, with varying degrees of technological savvy.

Your target customer, for instance, may have a president who has depended on specific trade journals for the bulk of his tenure and he’s not about to stop now. The same company may very well have an often younger, management team member who lives and dies by Facebook and is quite comfortable ingesting information in a digital format.

Wouldn’t it be shrewd of you to talk to them both?

Growing Pains

While society suffers the growing pains of its shift from a print world to one that will most likely combine print and digital, (at least for a while until we perfect our individual jet engines and, “Beam me up, Scotty” becomes a command grounded in reality) it is the keen marketer who invests in a campaign that lives on multiple platforms.

 Wikimedia Commons

 Wikimedia Commons

One beautiful aspect of print and digital co-existing, is that they reinforce each other. Information that is garnered in print can be further supported or embellished on in digital, and vice-versa. These media boast a complementary relationship as they each extend the shelf-life and visibility of the other.

Keeping it Fluid

At the moment QR codes serve to immediately connect the reader from a print medium to digital, and once you’re in digital land, you can research your topic, or product, or whatever, simply by clicking.

Add social media mechanisms to the mix and you begin to experience the human element i.e. actual people “liking” your product or message, actual people tweeting and retweeting what you have to say. One pair of eyes grows into hundreds, even thousands, when your audience becomes your messenger.

The name of the game in marketing has always been to hone your message, define your target audience, and hang out where they hang out. Yes, this print vs. digital quandary you may find yourself in could very well turn out to be your best friend.


Pamela Simmons

As Director of Marketing at Technology Publishing Company (publisher of PaintSquare, JPCL and Durability + Design), I’m here to share my thoughts about marketing, social media, and how the digital revolution impacts the protective and marine coatings industry and the world in general.



Tagged categories: Advertising; Information technology; Marketing; Online tools; Social Media

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (8/3/2012, 9:12 AM)

Printed documents (papyrus) have lasted 4,000 years. Does anyone think that your SD card or hard drive will be readable for that long? The original 1086 Domesday Book is still easily readable today, while the 900th anniversary Domesday Project on digital media required an entire separate project just 8 years later to avoid losing access to the information. Access was lost again after another 6 years when the single programmer died. Most of the project went online in 2011 after yet another project, but is still heavily tangled in copyright issues through the year 2090. Hooray for digital?

Comment from trevor neale, (8/7/2012, 11:37 AM)

Tom, I am 77 and know where you are coming from, however we have to face the fact the that much of the printed stuff today is old even after 4000 hours, I only trust Tech and Safety data that is on the manufacturers web sites to insure we have the latest information and in the case of many clients the latest specification.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (8/22/2012, 4:16 PM)

Trevor, the ubiquity and easily refreshed/updated nature of digital definitely has its advantages! Combined with copyright issues, we're going to lose a lot of information as well.

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