Don’t Make a Bad Trade Show Tradeoff

Today, I’m offering what might be a little dose of “tough love” to a few of you. As a big believer in print marketing, I have to weigh in a minor trend I’ve heard about. Some companies, thinking they are doing something environmentally friendly, no longer hand out the traditional catalogs and sell sheets at trade shows. Instead, they give out thumb drives containing their marketing materials or scan show badges for later email follow-up.

That’s a mistake. First, trees are a renewable resource, so the environmental impact is more imagined than real. (You can check out for more information on the sustainability of paper.) In fact, research studies have suggested that the production and use of more electronic devices may be more costly in terms of resources. But even more importantly, when it comes to print marketing vs. digital marketing materials, research has proven two things:

  • Consumers prefer print
  • Consumers respond better to print

“Cool. I Can Use Another Thumb Drive”

Don’t get me wrong. I love thumb drives as promotional items. In fact, we have unmatched experience in that area. We know which promotional items are the most appreciated by consumers in different situations and in different parts of the country.

But as a vehicle for conveying “take-home” marketing messaging, they fall far short of printed pieces. Most of those thumb-drive recipients at trade shows can’t wait to get home to delete whatever content has been loaded onto the drive to free up its full capacity.  Human nature. And when that happens, your story is gone. Not so with print marketing.

Research Shows a Preference for Print Marketing

A recent article on MarketingProfs presents an infographic that contains several interesting facts. All were gleaned from research studies conducted by Marketing Sherpa, the Direct Marketing Association, and several respected universities. For starters, it seems that print is much more compatible with the ways our minds work.

  • Our brains spend 21% less cognitive effort processing print media; It’s just easier
  • Recall of a print ad is 70% higher than for a digital counterpart
  • Print scores higher in review time, emotional reaction, memory retention, and perceived value
  • Persuasion (motivation) is significantly higher for print than digital, in all age groups

Market Results Should Make YOU Prefer Print Marketing, Too

When making that trade show decision, think about what consumers’ actual behaviors tell us. More survey results worth noting:

  • The response rate to direct marketing print pieces is 37% higher than to email
  • Even postcards beat email 4.25% to 0.1% in response rate. That’s 42 times higher.

Oh, and one more result I find fascinating. And it features that desirable, younger demographic. You know, that digital-savvy generation that’s always on their laptops or smartphones?

  • 92 percent of 18-23-year-olds find it easier to concentrate on printed content than on digital

Let that sink in a bit.

Print Belongs at Your Next Trade Show

So don’t fall prey to the notion that passing out printed materials at trade shows somehow wastes natural resources. Fact is, there are more trees in the U.S. today than there were 100 years ago. But if you stop passing out catalogs, sell sheets and the rest, then you are wasting something: a great opportunity.

Trade shows are an excellent place to tell prospects your company story in big, beautiful, printed color. I’d even suggest adding a desirable promotional handout that keeps your brand front and center. Printed trade show bags are very popular. And so are custom pens (the selection is almost endless on these.)

You Belong with Superior

To make the most of those printed materials, I know just the place to get them. Superior has been helping businesses succeed for nearly 100 years. Our ISO certification imposes high standards on our processes and customer service. But our three consecutive Best of Print and Digital awards confirm that those processes deliver for our customers.

To grow your business, contact Superior right now. With our experience in print management and promotional marketing, we have the expertise to help you succeed at trade shows and beyond.

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