Go Green: Recycle Your Digital Content for Print and Give It a New Life

October 17, 2017

We live in an age where people carry a computer around in their pocket—a vast and potentially endless treasure trove of photographs, videos, and social connectivity. Businesses, as well as individuals, operate with the understanding that digital content is not only accessible at a moment’s notice, but that they themselves can hoard an enormous amount of content. The rise of digital likewise affords everyone the ability to produce content easily and on-the-cheap. There’s enormous value in all of this. But is presenting this content digitally all that it has to offer? Or are there larger ambitions out there? Can it be more impactful? It’s become a truth about life in a plugged-in world: Everyone has a large library of digital content just sitting there, waiting and ready to be repurposed.


But how can this content be reinvigorated? The answer may seem like a luddite’s dream, but one that has increased in prevalence for those longing for a more tangible version of personal memories and professional assets: something printed. Digital was supposed to be a cultural savior, but so much stuff is now flooding people’s minds—referred to as “content shock”—that customers are unlikely to be able to process it in any meaningful way. The digitization of everything in our lives, from at-home snapshots to advertisements to even books, has transformed into a monsoon of information. We have hit a tipping point where digital content is becoming almost meaningless.


“The oft-used analogy is that digital marketing now is the equivalent of shouting into a hurricane,”

Sam Slaughter wrote for AdAge.


Print’s association with content consumption is no longer conflated with pace—that printed things are just too slow—but now with engagement. What good is producing an advertising or marketing campaign if it doesn’t land with your target audience, both in form and function? Recently, printed objects have once again become a coveted commodity in the business world. More companies are dedicating resources to building printed assets, primarily as a means to present a piece of their brand—or the lifestyle associated therewithin—with a more obvious nod to quality and customization. More oomph. When everyone is going digital, print is bound to stand out. It can do something that assets on a screen cannot. The tide has changed in print’s favor. "Repurpose digital content in physical formats to leave an enduring impression," wrote a recent Forrester report, citing the resurgence of print. Custom publishing in the business-to-business sector is expected to be a $20 billion industry by 2021.


The benefits of print media have once again entered the mainstream, and people are flocking to a product one heralded as “dead.” But, alas, print was never really dead to begin with. It was chugging quietly along, waiting for its resurgence, ready to prove that it was equally if not more viable than digital products. “The results of the study indicated that even though they appeared to process digital adds more rapidly, the subjects spent more time with the physical [assets] that triggered stronger emotional responses and memorisation,” wrote Dr. Bernard Perbal in the Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling, a research paper that studied people’s responses to digital and printed content.


Page flip from "Smokejumpers 2017" - by Cole Barash x Hatteras http://hatteras.us/smokejumpers-2017


Likewise, when an individual engages with something in print, the lasting impression it produces influences future interactions with the brand in the digital space. Both for customers and business-to-business engagements alike, the relationship formed through print can not only prompt people to seek the brand out in digital spaces—Instagram, Twitter, and other social media, as well as direct websites—but also be more receptive when they naturally come across a company’s digital marketing campaigns. Thanks to print, a bridge of trust has already been formed, and a customer’s behavior related to the brand behind the content is altered.


All of this information, however, should not persuade a small-business entrepreneur or Fortune 500 company to abandon their digital marketing campaigns and replace them solely with print efforts. Digital still affords great opportunity for a business trying to expand its reach or disseminate its brand, but as the mindset of consumers change, print has proven itself as a beneficial—if not crucial—asset alongside a company’s digital initiative. Something tangible, something impactful. Because nothing feels better than a journal or magazine or postcard in your hand, custom-made just for you.