As marketers, we are often challenged with how to connect with our audience while presenting information. How can we deliver a message and share our value, in a way that’s memorable? And beyond that, how can we convey information and data-rich content clearly and concisely? These challenges are especially present in the financial and insurance landscape. Let’s face it, we aren’t selling lawnmowers. Services must be sold through their benefits. Healthcare for staying healthy and fighting illness, when needed. Property casualty, and life for protection of our greatest assets, and financial services for growing and preserving our money. Messaging for each generally contains lots of information, includes statistics around those things you protect. In addition, showcasing the financial well-being of your company is of critical importance to strengthening the impression of your company.

A growing number of marketers are rethinking print to share information and insights. Now that we spend 10 hours a day looking at screens, capturing someone’s attention there has become difficult, albeit impossible. Print presents a unique opportunity for engaging people in a tangible way, making the information presented and the data behind it real and substantial.

When MassMutual began targeting the workforce for their worksite marketing initiative, they already had the insight that most American workers were financially unprepared for their future. Armed with studies and reams of data surrounding the lack of knowledge around investing, we worked with them to develop infographics and iconography that conveyed the gravity of the data – with the intent of motivating people to invest in the future. These printed charts visually explained the importance of the information in a quick and attention-getting way that statistics and paragraphs of explanation could not.

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Similarly, when Pure Insurance wanted to convey their claims stories in a way that was memorable, we were able to bring the stories of loss to life visually in print with both the structure of the information, woven with imagery. These digestible stories helped their brand convey an important message- the emotion of the stories spoke to the heart and soul of insurance, protection. It’s a story that cannot be as eloquently articulated on a screen.


Using data to help envision information

Agencies too are taking notice of print to share their own insights. J. Walter Thompson’s innovation think tank, JWT Intelligence, gathers proprietary data on consumers like buying behavior. They decided that, rather than publishing another study bogged down by numbers and graphs, to present the information in a way that more brands and consumers could actually understand—in a print magazine. Using data, insights and trends garnered from the agency’s innovation group, the result was the print magazine Glass. Why would an agency launch a print magazine? Taking a cue from Edward Tufte, the author of “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information”, there is simply no better way to creatively display information than in print. People can scan through charts and visuals quickly, and, almost like a snapshot, immediately get the consensus of what that information is trying to convey.

Originally created as a way to inform employees and clients about the latest trends and technology, the print publication doubles as a tool the agency can use in pitches and strategy meetings with clients. And at this year’s Advertising Week in New York JWT shared that glossy magazine with attendees.

JWT’s insights about utilizing print to convey trends visually were right, and others are following suit. Huge launched its own digital magazine, Magenta, in early October while R/GA has its own title, FutureVision.   R/GA had this to say about their publication and how it has helped them reengage clients through print. “Eventually we started getting requests to do custom research, publications and briefings for our clients (to help them convey their own information)”.

When brands appeal to the senses, advertising effectiveness increases and so does trust, 56% of consumers trust print marketing over any other marketing outlet. 1

Interestingly enough, the magazines the agencies are creating are also helping agencies attract different types of talent, including journalists. On more than one occasion, candidates asked to be involved in the creation process, understanding the importance of story-telling and content creation to the marketing landscape today. Something equally important in print and online. How can you leverage content creators in your business plan? Communicating content of value is equally as important as selling and promotion. Perhaps think of a writer that can help service your client base and take that support and value to another level.


The Power to Provoke

Ad agencies aren’t the only ones talking about this with their clients. The Direct Marketing Association reported that print surpasses all aggregate digital marketing outlets by more than 600%.2   And 70% of Americans feel more of a personal connection to print marketing over digital platforms. 3

And how about mail? It still works! And it can be a great tool to drive your audience online. Direct mail has a 5.3% response rate, compared to digital at 0.9%, and direct mail has a higher ROI (at 27%) than paid search or online display. Daily 80-90% of direct mail gets opened, while only while email open rates are 20-30%. 4 With the average American receiving 130 emails a day compared to 2-3 mail pieces, direct mail stands out in the clutter of the digital space. 3


Publishers are investing in print innovation

Another sign that print is here to stay? The publishing industry is continuing to invest in it. Two major publishers, Hearst and The New York Times, made news by talking about how they are looking to facilitate innovation in print. The investment in new print product roles ensures that newspapers and magazines are here to stay, even in the digital age.

The New York Times named a new manager of print innovation. That role is charged with overseeing efforts to revitalize print. And in its new campaign, TNYT asserts that brands can’t live on Facebook alone, “Facebook is a requirement in almost any media campaign, but it’s limited in its ability to add breadth or gravitas to what you’re doing”. Digital on screens can be quickly scrolled and swiped, print is tactical and maybe we can go so far as to even say, real, in a time of social media ‘fakeness’.


Hearst is also launching new print products by focusing on content and partnering with next-generation content creators. Their key theme? Content and collaboration. In keeping with the collaboration theme, all of the new print magazines Hearst Publishing released in the last year were created with other companies.


Print: The Information Architect

So when trying to share insights and data with your audience, like charts on performance if you are a mutual company, or an investment firm, or data around healthcare statistics, if you are a healthcare insurer? Or bring to life the stories or experiences your insurers and clients have had through your services? There is simply no better way to convey that information quickly to your audience than in print. Take a cue from the DMA and the ad agencies and publishers above- and rethink print, the information architect.

Long Live Print!


  1. “Print Marketing Is Still Not Dead” – AllBusiness Networks
  2. 2015 DMA Response Rate Report (can be found here )
  3. taken from the Direct Marketing Association
  4. Martin Lindstrom, writer of Brand Sense.