Should promotional budgets be devoted to digital? There's still a place for print in the marketing mix, says Pride of Britain chief executive Peter Hancock
If you hold a firm view as to whether or not print media is history, this article will not change it. Most people seem to either dismiss books, magazines and newspapers as having no future or they feel a strong attachment to these familiar relics of the pre-digital era.
I have to confess, and this is hard for one so opinionated as your correspondent, that I am still undecided on the matter.
Of course, the writing is on the wall, or rather the screen, in that the great mass of new communication tools are all web and digital media based. We are becoming used to reading on a Kindle and finding just about everything we need on our PCs and mobiles.
Delivering information is quicker and much cheaper if you cut out the print, paper and transport costs, too. Why would anyone bother with the rigmarole of publishing hard copies these days - surely the end of such folly is nigh? Well, maybe. At Pride of Britain we face the same dilemma as all our competitors: how much of a finite budget to devote to digital marketing and how much to keep spending with printers and the Royal Mail.
So far we have shifted heavily, but by no means totally, towards digital. The biggest irony is that as visitor numbers to our website increase, so do the requests for brochures. Some argue that tangible printed items, assuming they're of the right quality, can tempt the casual passer-by better than their electronic counterparts which have to be sought out deliberately.
There is a tendency to write things off prematurely. While newspaper circulation has dropped over recent years, the Daily Telegraph still sells about 600,000 copies and the Sun about 2.5 million. These are significant numbers, made all the more impressive by the existence of a cover price.
What amuses me is how much advertising resource goes into encouraging the users of one medium to switch to another. Display ads telling you to visit a company's website; the website telling you to find them on Facebook, and so on.
A final point. My guess is that if you're reading this in Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine you might get to the end, while those looking on www.catererandhotelkeeper.com may already have moved on to something else, such is the temptation to keep clicking away like a trigger-happy cowboy.