19 July 2019 Events

Mark my word as IPIA event delivers print to marketers

The Epic conference drew a large crowd, not all committed to the idea of ink on paper. They learned a lot.

It was the day of the two Marks. One was Mark Wright, not the one from The Only Way Is Essex (nor the England footballer) but the Mark Wright who had won The Apprentice, and Mark Davies, managing director of iDoordrop, a division of delivery specialist Whistl.

The day was the IPIA’s Everything is Possible in Communication conference which packed out the Congress Centre conference hall in central London with 300 delegates largely comprising marketers from brands and agencies. For the last decade they have been fed the mantra of digital. On this day they would hear that digital is not the solution to everything and that ‘good old fashioned print’ is anything but the communication medium of yesteryear.

It meant that there were fewer white hairs and more women in the audience than can be found at many print industry events. But this was the point. It was not a printing industry conference, organiser Marian Stefani, IPIA chief executive, was at pains to point out. This was a conference for advertising and marketing people who probably do not know about print and who, by attending, were receiving the message that print has a strong place, in a more tangential way than through supplier presentations.

Print industry suppliers underpinned the event with sponsorship and small stands where they choose to focus on the added value aspects of print: Duplo discussing its DuSense digital enhancement technology; Xerox with Iridesse and XMPie; Perfect Bindery Solutions with easy to use box making equipment and Fujifilm with Jetpress samples among them. A brochure for the event allowed these sponsors to present their case.

The problem for print was highlighted by Mark Wright. After a short and thoroughly engaging romp through his life story from Outback childhood to winning the reality game show and going on to success with a digital marketing business, he took questions from the floor.

First, however, he explained how he had approached the Fujifilm stand to ask what the company had to offer. “They asked ‘Do you print?’ then started getting complex about A4 sheets and what the machine does. Don’t. Stop trying to talk about the features and instead talk about the Why and what it’s going to do for me. And watch your sales go up. The most successful companies do not always have the best products. Starbucks doesn’t make the best coffee, but it’s the best known.”

The morning had kicked off with Karen Fraser talking about the way that the £140 billion UK advertising industry had lost the trust of its audience. Her business Credos had been established by the Advertising Association to understand how the industry is viewed, resulting in a report called The Good, The Bad and the Troubling.

The problem predates the digital ages as public perception of advertising has been falling since the early 1990s,” she said. “The percentage of people who think that advertising is a good thing has fallen from 50% to 25% today. Compared to banking, compared to energy, advertising is at the lowest position when ranked for trust.”

Not only is this bad for business, it will make it difficult for the industry to recruit the best talent. The result was biggest piece of work trying to understand why, including tracking a dozen people to monitor the role advertising plays in their lives.

There are positives. For example, people who had discovered life threatening illnesses thanks to health awareness campaigns. But there were far more negatives around the sheer volume and spread of advertising into all areas of daily life, from flyers, shop windows, sponsorship and of course mobile messages. The misuse of personal data through tracker ads is considered particularly annoying. The danger is that this results in ad avoidance behaviours.

There was more about data from Scott Logie, director of data agency REaD. “We are about a combination of data and great creativity in a way that engages with consumer.” He drew upon research from the Digital Marketing Association to show that despite all the noise around brand engagement, likes and so forth, 75% of consumers will buy once from a brand and will never do so again, 60% will give to a charity and never donate for a second time. In short consumers are less loyal to a brand than before. And far less loyal than marketers like to think.

But there are aspects of a brand that can promote loyalty for a 21st century audience, around social responsibility, consumer responsiveness and other more intangible drivers. “Not many people choose their supermarket because it makes them look good,” he said. And when consumers are asked about their supermarket choices, habit and convenience win out. Amazon scores highly in all sorts of sectors, mostly in e-commerce, but the retail behemoth is branching out into physical stores and into print with a toys catalogue at the end of last year.

"Even those brands which consider themselves to be purely digital realise there’s not a pure digital environment.” And when he continued “marketers overvalue things like social media and undervalue things like print” a spontaneous round of applause broke out. He went on to quote reports about people’s desire to receive messages through the post not just on email or social media.

Wright had no truck with statistics, no respect for the idea of search engine optimisation, even if this is what his company ClimbOnline is ultimately about. Calling it SEO would have bracketed the business with too many others. “We created a product and brand and went to market with that brand and then you start to change the way of thinking. There were mobile phones before Apple, taxis before Uber and so on. In order to transform a market you need to look and sound different, you need to be a little arrogant.” He can afford to live the message.

The first question whistled in from Mark Stephenson, Fujifilm product marketing manager. “Why, when I read a magazine, a full page ad doesn’t annoy me, so why does a full page ad on the internet annoy me?” Wright answered: “As the person who has chosen the newspaper, you are in control. With digital advertising we can follow you for 90 days trying to sell an Arsenal jersey. That can feel invasive. Because people are smart, you know when your privacy is being invaded.”

And the technology and people he has at his disposal can find their way through phones and computers to plant the message he explained, advising that cyber security was the next big issue.

But the old ways are also important, it is wrong to rely on online. “Every company needs sales people, every company needs marketing. Print is so important to your business. We do as much print advertising as online advertising. When most people are jumping on Facebook, I’m going in newspapers.”

At the outset print advertising had got Wright a job in telesales for an online marketing company, not that he stayed long. He had handed out printed CVs to passersby while walking between Victoria and Hammersmith every day; when going out on his own, he used flyers pushed through front doors in south London.

And he remains an advocate for print and for the power of hammering the message. “McDonalds don’t stop marketing,” he said.

The McDonalds reference would have been music to Jon Birrell's ears. As leader of the British Promotional Merchandising Association, the kids’ toys that the burger chain has given away is a perfect example. His message was the toy, cup or piece of clothing with your logo or message will have a much longer life than an email. And the Compare The Market meercats, Andrex Puppy, even the Griffin Savers Club paraphernalia he received from the Midland Bank when joining as a boy, are other examples used to expand brand recognition and loyalty.

Then came the second Mark of the day, Mark Davies, to round off the event with the clarion call to use targeted door drops for customer acquisition. These are increasingly sophisticated in being able to segment an audience without using personal data.

The door drop 15 years or more ago when digital was in its infancy is very different to what is possible today and instead of junk mail, today’s doormat print is welcomed by younger recipients too young to have witnessed the credit card wars that were fought by junk mail.

He referred to Mary Meeker's internet report which continues to show a mismatch between mobile phone use and the advertising spend it attracts. “This is because people have fat thumbs,” he said. “Digital is not actually delivering on the promises it makes.” Examples were the fact that 54% of digital adverts are never seen; that there are huge fraud issues around online advertising and use of YouTube and other social media; that so-called influencers are frequently fakes or being paid to hype a product; let alone the overly clever use of data.

He flicked up a web page he visited while travelling into London from Oxford. The picture and link tempting him to “visit the places the people are talking about in Hillingdon” or offering car hire to tourists visiting Venice.

Print in contrast is “a futureproof acquisition channel”. It means that post GDPR and environment issues breaking free of their box, “we have been very busy in the last year”. Print is the fourth most effective tool in the box where television leads in marketing effectiveness.

Now, he said, print can prove its effectiveness thanks to the creation of Jicmail to measure and report on consumer behaviour and amount of interaction with direct mail and catalogues. And there is strong anecdotal evidence to back up figures such as the 28 days a catalogue will be in the home. ”A customer reported a 20% uplift in sales from the door drops and Music Magpie called to say ‘We get a 70% uplift in sales when you do a door drop for us’.”

By Gareth Ward

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