Why print media has a place in the wedding industry

young woman reading a wedding magazine while having a cup of coffe at home

So, does print media and advertising stack up against digital marketing in this day and age, and specifically wedding magazines? There are a huge amount of stats for and against this argument.  Print media has seen a steady decline over the years while digital platforms have been rising to the point that many of us feel we just live in a digital world. But 2018 has seen a significant shift, with the millennials deleting their social media accounts by their thousands following recent scandals and the introduction of GDPR making us all very aware of our personal identities.

And this is what it comes down to – we’re all now very aware of the digital world and how it can impact us – our safety, our identities, our health, our sanity! We’re all living in it but are we really connecting with it?

If you’re one for stats then a report called Print & Paper In A Digital World which was commissioned for Two Sides, released some interesting findings

  • Print provides more privacy and security
    • 71% of UK consumers are increasingly concerned that their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged and 69% keep hard copies of important documents filed at home, as they believe this is the safest and most secure way of storing their information.
  • Print is more trusted and provides and deeper understanding to the reader
    • More consumers believe they gain a deeper understanding of the story when read from newspapers (63%) over online news sources (45%).
    • 76% of all UK respondents believe “fake news” is a worrying trend and just 16% trust the news stories found on social media.
  • There is concern about the impacts of digital consumption on health
    • 47% believe they spend too much time on electronic devices and 46% are concerned the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health. 31% feel they are suffering from “digital overload” – this rises to 58% amongst the 18-24 year olds.
    • 69% think it’s important to “switch off” from screens
  • Online advertising is unpopular with most consumers
    • The results reveal that 78% of UK consumers do not pay attention to online advertisements and 63% do their best to block or avoid them. 69% of respondents say they find online ads annoying and 72% say they can’t remember the last time they willingly clicked an online ad.

They overall concluded that consumers trust, enjoy and gain a deeper understanding of information read in print, with signs of digital fatigue and concern for security and privacy evident.

So is anyone turning their back on social media completely??

Wetherspoons has deemed all social media ‘marketing hype’ and jacked it all in saying ‘print media will do the same job, just better’.  It ditched it’s 44,000 Twitter and 100,000 Facebook followers plus deleted their entire email database in response to GDPR. This more or less falls in line with fears that many brands share around the apparent lack of trustand transparency in marketing.

Unilever threatened to withdraw their adverts from platforms such as Facebook due to the presence of extremist and illegal material.

Jane Helpern explained why millennials and Generation X are turning away from social media – “The gratification and thrill associated with social media has substantially faded as too many images and voices vie for attention, causing what feels like thousands of attention-hungry children speaking over one another, simultaneously saying everything and nothing. Sure, many of us still scroll through our feeds on auto-pilot, mindlessly double tapping photos of cacti, skimming heartful captions while feeling nothing. But, overall, we’re withdrawing from social media in favour of decluttering and clearing our heads, seeking out meaningful and authentic connections, and forgoing the dime-a-dozen opinions of others in favour of experts.”

What about advertising?

One of the most significant pieces of information OR “STAT” I have come across recently is a report from Ebiquity, called Re-evaluating media which found that of the top 10 media channels, non-digital ones took the top 6 spots. TV was top of the league, but magazines came in at number 4 and direct mail i.e. the stuff we receive in the post, was placed 6th. More interestingly for me, actual analysis of Return On Investment placed magazines 3rd whereas paid social media only came 6th.

This is probably because 84% of people believe they are better able to understand and retain information when they read it on paper.  This is possibly best illustrated by our continued love of books. Tom Goodwin, Head of Innovation at Zenith Media said: “The continuing popularity of books and physical books in particular is a very strong counter-trend. This could well be a reaction against the amount of time we spend on screens.”

When considering emotional response specifically, magazines were placed 2nd. Our industry, the wedding industry, is all about emotion and emotional responses. I think this is key to why printed media is still so popular with couples planning their wedding.

Just to give you some examples of how some of the biggest brands in the UK and the world have changed their marketing recently…

Coca Cola launched their ‘A Coke For Everyone’ marketing campaign earlier this year – and it was started with print marketing. A poem was debuted on the back page of the New York Times without a logo. Group comms Director Alex Wadlinger explains “Print has a static quality that TV, digital and online video cannot offer. The engagement these other media give is fleeting. We felt that the first time Coca-Cola put this message into the world, it should be delivered with confidence that underlines the commitment behind it.”

Last year, PrintPower reported Clarks turned to magazine brands for an image overhaul. They worked with Time Inc UK, publishers of Look, Marie Claire and InStyle, to create a fully immersive campaign around ‘effortless style’.  The result were:

  • Awareness was raised, with consumers 41% more likely to remember seeing Clarks advertising after the campaign
  • 3 in 5 said the campaign made them feel more positively about Clarks
  • The campaign’s success also translated into sales, with Clarks going from the 2nd most purchased shoe brand to number one

To remind people that the IKEA catalogue was a more holistic sensory experience than digital platforms, they created an online campaign that compared the print catalogue against technology. A video which was a parody inspired by the pioneering Apple device the ‘MacBook’.  They created a marketing concept that inspired a nostalgic love for the ‘BookBook’ which was still relevant in a digital age.  The video further emphasises the accessibility and easy use of the catalogue. They wanted to remind their audience of the wonderful properties that only a tangible catalogue can deliver.

This is similar to Next – the company still prints the main books and season brochures each year despite a comprehensive website and extensive retail network. This approach must still deliver an ROI and satisfy customer demand or they would not continue to do it.

Having something printed in our hands really is a significantly different experience to browsing on a device. There’s something more emotionally connecting about the weight and even the smell of printed material. It does seem we can focus attention on a magazine or brochure for longer than a webpage or device screen.

My Hello! Magazine is sacred in our house.  With a toddler demanding attention, it’s a weekly indulgence for me to walk up to the shop on a Wednesday, pick one from the back of the stack on the shelf, and have some ‘me’ time to read it.  My partner knows that I will be incredibly annoyed if he even just flicks through it before me.  There is something about being the first to open the pristine copy and immerse myself in other people’s lives for half an hour! I’m well aware that I could read all the articles online but reading a magazine online is difficult!

There’s also the convenience factor. A brochure or magazine can be put down and picked up wherever you are as many times as you like. You don’t need a good broadband connection or mobile signal to read a printed magazine or browse a brochure. The best designed examples can even become coffee table tomes and left on display.

So thinking about the wedding industry specifically.

A bride once told me “When you get engaged, there is still something so special about going out and buying your first wedding magazine. That feeling of getting home, grabbing a cup of tea and devouring it in one sitting just can’t be beaten.”  This is something I can totally believe in and relate to.

Brides still create their ‘bride book’ – a scrap book of ideas, clippings from magazines, snippets of material and ribbons. It is something they can keep on them for those moments when another idea comes into their minds.  After the wedding it can kept as part of their memory box to dig out years later.

I was at a wedding fair the other weekend and there were 3 wedding magazines on a table for anyone to pick up.  I don’t think I saw a single bride who didn’t have at least one of those magazines in her hand as she left.

I saw an eBay auction just yesterday from someone who was now married and was selling off their collection of wedding magazines.  There was another auction for one magazine which was listed at twice the original price.  Overall there are currently over 2000 wedding magazines available to buy on eBay!  This surely shows the value in magazines longevity and the ease of passing it on.

We manage a number of small venues in the Midlands, all of which have a downloadable brochure available.  But we still have requests for a brochure to be sent to them in the post.  Or if we’re doing a viewing, they’ll ask to take the brochure home.  The UK Wedding Report 2017 found that 61% of couples prefer a physical brochure.

And then there is the trust element.  For most brides, this is the most important day of their life, one that they have been dreaming about for years.  They want to make sure the suppliers they are working with are trust worthy.  We have seen numerous news stories with the rise of Facebook business pages where couples have been left without a service and out of pocket by fraudulent people using it as a easy scam.  Doing their research in bridal magazines comes back to the 59% of people in the Print & Paper In A Digital World report who do not trust many of the ads they see online.

43% of us are more likely to take action after seeing an advertisement in print than they would if they saw the same advert online.  That’s nearly half of us!

According to the UK Wedding Report 2017 only 32% of couples used wedding websites – the other 68% used recommendations from family & friends, wedding fairs, personal experiences from other friends’ weddings, and recommendations from other suppliers.

We run 25 – 30 wedding fairs in the Midlands.  We have seen a huge decrease in the number of couples pre-registering to attend, despite us offering a big £1000 prize draw. But we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of walk-ins and ‘sale’ of Eventbrite tickets where their information is protected. Again, GDPR has made people very aware of signing up to things online and they don’t want to do it – even with the carrot of prize draw!

Maybe this is why Rock N Roll Bride launched a bi-monthly magazine. What started out a wedding blog website in 2007 by Kat Williams, it has now come full circle with a printed magazine.  When they launched the magazine in 2015, it was reported by the distribution company as the fastest and best-selling debut issue of a magazine ever. It also sold out for online orders within 72 hours, with over 1000 copies selling in the first day alone.

Does Google still rule?

When talking to businesses about advertising in our wedding magazine, we are often told ‘but we’re investing our marketing in Google’ so I thought I’d have a look and see what that looked like.  Take wedding venues for instance, if you google WEDDING VENUE CORNWALL well over 4 million results came up.  If you narrow that down to Truro, there are still 148,000 results to wade through. Ok, lets look at something where there is less of them – florists.  WEDDING VENUE FLORIST had 388,000 results.  Interesting, focusing that down to WEDDING VENUE TRURO and there are still 347,000 results.

We also get ‘but we’re already on the first page of Google’ – don’t forget, if you constantly look at the same website, i.e. your own!, this will start to appear on the first page of YOUR Google search.  If you truly want to see where you are, you’ll need to look from a different IP address.

Google and social media are overcrowded and full of noise so would you rather be up against thousands of pages or stand apart from the crowd with just a handful of other advertisers in a magazine?  If all of your competitors are sticking to digital marketing, what is going to set you aside from them?

To get the best out of print advertising, according to Rachael Morgan from Wedding Ideas Magazine are three things…

  • Continuity – for at least 3 months or more to get your brand recognised – I was talking to the ex-marketing director of Legoland recently and he said if your concern was the cost it was far better to have 3 smaller adverts over a number of editions, rather than 1 big advert in one edition.
  • A lifestyle look – brides are looking for ideas and ‘feelings’ when they look at magazine ads. Show your products in a lifestyle, real-life setting
  • Accompanying editorial – regular ad campaigns in some cases secures you editorial or advertorial coverage. Try to work with a brand that offers that as part of the package.

Plus, make sure you have a consistent brand look across online and print advertising to reinforce your message.

So to summarise…

The fact is, there is a role for both digital and print in today’s communications mix and will work together brilliantly to the benefit of consumers. IKEA have launched an augmented reality app that, if you hold it over the printed brochure it will show you what the furniture would look like in your room. A great combination of print & digital technologies enhancing the customer experience. Consumers want to access information through all media and so we, as publishers and marketers, should allow them to do just that.

There is an analogy that my partner Eric came up with a while ago which I think perfectly sums up advertising in today’s world – it’s also something I can definitely relate to!  If you go on a diet, you’ll lose weight.  If you go to the gym, you’ll lose weight.  If you diet AND go to the gym you’ll lose weight quicker and more effectively.