Get Real: The Benefits of Tangible Marketing

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Cover Image for Get Real: The Benefits of Tangible Marketing

By Wendy Anderson

We are clearly in the midst of a digital age where getting a message to market as quickly as possible is often the chosen path of marketers. But, is this always the best way to get noticed? For my money, absolutely not. In a society in which we’re constantly being bombarded with messaging, there are several distinct benefits of tangible marketing. Allow me to explain.


tangible item is defined as something that can be perceived, especially by the sense of touch; it is a physical thing. Tangible marketing consists of all types of print media. Examples include books, magazines, newspapers, brochures, direct mailers, posters, promotional items, business cards and more.

Rolland Enviro, Smooth, 100lb. Cover, Offset 1 Color Print with Blind Deboss (100% Recycled)


Think about coffee table books, bumper stickers and refrigerator magnets–these are enduring messages that continue to promote your brand long after they’ve been received. Printed materials are made to last, while emails and digital marketing can disappear into the ether of cyberspace almost instantaneously. People will hang onto well-designed postcards, coasters, t-shirts and other collateral often for years. There is a greater attachment to tangible media than to the mass emails we’re inundated with on a daily basis.


Studies have shown that consumers find print media to be more credible than digital media. After all, no one has ever caught a computer virus or been the victim of a phishing scam by reading a print ad or holding a magazine. There is an inherent sense of hesitation when we see a screen full of banner ads and popups that make us wary of clicking. There is no imminent danger to handling a brochure or putting a business card in your pocket. 


Print media is more engaging than its digital cousin. Connecting with information delivered through printed material is easier—not because the information on a digital screen is more difficult to read, but because the mind is less likely to wander and become distracted when viewing print. When we browse digital content, we can quickly skim and dismiss the content without truly digesting it—digital messages are easily forgotten. On the other hand, print is a form of swag that can literally be placed in the hands of the consumer. Its effectiveness can be enhanced with colors, designs, textures and fonts to create allure and draw the consumer in, increasing their retention. 

Sensory Connection

There is also a sensory connection when we hold a printed piece in our hands. Especially if the paper has a nice texture, embossing, UV coating, fancy die-cuts or shiny foils. The sense of touch is often overlooked when contemplating marketing, but it can have a very real impact on the consumer. Think about how much more a handwritten note means to you versus a text or an email. There is just something intrinsically more valuable when the messaging comes in the form of something tangible. 

Left to right: Sappi, Opus PS Web Dull Cover, 9pt., Offset 2 Color Print, Silver Foil + Soft Touch Coating | Rolland Enviro, Smooth, 100lb. Cover, Offset 4 Color Print (100% Recycled) | Extract Papers, Offset 1 Color Print, 10 Different Colored Stocks, 130gsm and 380gsm Weights + Unique Die-Cuts and Custom Binding (Made from Recycled Paper Cups)

Sappi (a paper company) published a piece called “A Communicator’s Guide to the Neuroscience of Touch.” It is filled with examples that prove the power of tangible marketing (and paper, of course). According to neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman, “Consumers who read about a fictitious company on heavy, high-quality coated paper had more positive feelings about the company and understood and remembered the content significantly better than those who read the exact same content on either lighter, lower-quality uncoated paper or on a computer screen.” 

When Should I Consider Using Print in a Campaign?

  1. Are you promoting something special for the holidays? This is a prime opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of print. Holidays generate a sea of messaging from all types of businesses; stand out in the crowd with a beautiful direct mailer that can be delivered directly to the hands of the customer. 
  2. If you’re running a social media campaign, you may want to encourage subscribers to sign up for free promotional items or marketing collateral. Once you’ve collected data from your most engaged consumers, you can follow up by sending them customized printed materials utilizing variable data printing. The variable data process allows you to personalize graphics without slowing down the printing process, all while directly targeting your most interested subscribers.
  3. Do you have a luxury product to sell? If so, print is the way to go. Glossy magazines and high-end print pieces appeal to the senses and hold a certain cachet that makes a bigger impact on luxury consumers. This is one area that digital channels cannot seem to replicate. 
Mohawk Carnival Vellum New Black 100lb Cover, Infinity Foils-White Pigment, Pink Holographic and Gold Metallic

Although there are many advantages to digital media, the most obvious disadvantage is how easy it is to ignore it. It takes no real thought to scroll past Facebook and banner ads or send rows of promotional email messages to the digital trash bin. In contrast, tangible media offers the ability to deliver rich, vibrant creative along with tactile stimuli to engage the consumer and increase the impact of your messaging. 

Now, don’t get me wrong—digital marketing is still a vital tool for any modern business. However, most marketing strategies would be wise to, at the very least, consider print in their promotional efforts. Using both mediums in tandem is a great way to get a message to market quickly while reinforcing your brand and creating marketing that lasts.