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Is Print Advertising Media Really Dead?

Picture the scene. You are trying to show a friend or colleague some great new service or product on a PC, phone, or tablet. What you picture in your head as a few clicks or swipes sometimes turns into: “Oh wait… Sorry it always does this… Ermm… No, cancel… No wait that doesn’t look right,…

Picture the scene. You are trying to show a friend or colleague some great new service or product on a PC, phone, or tablet. What you picture in your head as a few clicks or swipes sometimes turns into:

“Oh wait… Sorry it always does this… Ermm… No, cancel… No wait that doesn’t look right, just let me… Ummm…”

And it goes on. The creeping realisation that the amazing thing that you wanted to show your friend isn’t actually that great is an extra little kick in the pants.

Though a small thing, it is a tiny irritating slice of modern life. I’ll take my #firstworldproblems award now, thank you.

Compare that with the relative simplicity of handing over a leaflet. Done.

But put away those credit cards just yet – it’s all about context.

Outside of the Proverbial Box

Imagine how awkward networking events would be without business cards (OK, ‘how much more awkward’ they would be). Business cards often go overlooked and they are the first go-to print media that should be considered before any other, especially for those working in professional fields. I understand that not all businesses lend themselves to certain media. A cafe for example may benefit more from leaflets or tri-fold menu brochures than a business card. Conversely, an accountant is unlikely to appear professional by handing out a tri-fold brochure, but not having business cards.

An interesting side note here for IT and tech-based companies. Some of my techie brethren are reticent to offer much in the way of printed literature, lest they seem behind the times. But if your customers are employing the services of a web designer, IT support company or telecomms engineer; chances are that some of them are not overly tech savvy themselves, and are more likely to refer to a business card or flyer.

This is a great example. You may feel that your company somehow would be let down by a certain type of media, or that it would have no effect; but it may be just what your target audience is looking for. This is where good market research comes into play, but more on that in a bit.

Weighing it Up

Our brains love lists, so let’s quickly go over some pros and cons of using print media:


  • Adds a human touch
  • Accessible to those without a PC, smartphone or internet connection (great for those who focus their services to the elderly or
  • A great tool for those who offer products and services that can be described or pictured, though this is a double edged sword (see cons)
  • Act as a good takeaway for potential and current customers to mull a purchase over.
  • Simple flyers and leaflets are available online at very reasonable prices
  • The prospect of doing leaflet drops means that you can cast as wide a net as you can afford, whilst guaranteeing that your leaflets will make it into someone’s hands


  • There isn’t just the expense of buying brochures or leaflets, but also the expense of distributing them
  • If you require something bespoke then the price can often increase quite rapidly
  • When listing your products or services in print, be aware that things may change – suppliers may change or discontinue a certain line,
    changes in law may alter the way you can provide a certain service
  • You are tied into being associated with a certain style of branding until the leaflets have depleted
  • Any spelling mistakes or pricing errors included in a printed piece are not changeable like they are online.
  • Can depend on industry, but is not an exact science – tread carefully and research thoroughly

As both lists imply, it is very dependent on your own industry, remit and target audience. As highlighted in the cons, I’m not suggesting you go and bankrupt yourself paying for super high quality glossy catalogues listing the minutiae of your products and services. But if your marketing budget allows, you may want to invest in a brief flyer extolling the virtues of your product or service over your competitors. It’s all a balancing act which needs to be propped up with good research.

Research, Research, Research!

The most important step to consider in all marketing is to remember your current and target markets. As well as researching what keeps them up at night, you need to research how they may look for a resolution. Taking out an advertisement in a targeted print medium such as a business directory or trade magazine may be just the ticket.

Ideal client profiles help greatly with this part of the process. This is where you isolate the factors that make up your ideal and typical customers. There is some great advice on how to do this here.

We may be living in an increasingly digital age, but there is a place for leaflets and flyers too. In fact, a priority of print leaflets or brochures for small business is to complement your online presence, rather than see them as two competing aspects of marketing. List all of your social media platforms on any print literature; your website, phone number, address – all in a legible and professional font of course. QR codes don’t go amiss either; yes they may be seen to some as a bit of a fad, but you can get them for free and can be scaled down to a surprisingly small size in print depending on the amount of data they need to hold.

The crux of the matter is that printed brochures and leaflets, though they sometimes can feel like a blast from the past, are often reassuring and tangible. There’s something comforting about, say the likes of the Argos Catalogue (other catalogue stores are available) or indeed the Yellow Pages; a satisfying permanence that doesn’t require an internet connection, a laptop or even a phone.

So what’s the take home message here? Innovate, think things through, research and analyse your return on investment. Keep an open mind because marketing is an ever evolving thing, and technology is of course developing alongside. The printed word doesn’t seem to be going anywhere just yet.

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