Last year I wrote an article about 10 reasons to stop wasting your sales and marketing dollars on printed collateral.

It was fun to get some objections to my post.

Even people who made the case for print, though, couldn’t deny that digital sales materials were cheaper and often more effective.

Still, lots of people and organisations have serious objections to completely stopping spending on print.

So I’ve pulled together the four most common objections that I hear. These are things that sales people (and possibly your senior management) are throwing out as reasons to keep spending marketing budget on print. I've included my thoughts on how you might overcome these objections at your place.

Objection #1: “People’s attention spans are short. A nice brochure will keep them engaged.”

We’ve all heard this stat or a variation on it: People today have shorter attention spans than goldfish. For the record, that was from a Microsoft study of Canadian attention spans.


Nothing against Canadians here at Showcase but let’s take that study for what it’s worth.

Sure, our brains are being changed by modern technology – by the unbroken screentime, perpetual connection and squinting at tiny smartphone apps. But our attention spans work just fine when we come across material that’s relevant.

I argue that today we just have a better radar for what's relevant to us and what isn't.

If you capture your customer’s attention and can offer something of value, then they will have all the time in the world for you.

If you haven’t caught their attention already, if you haven’t shown them that you can solve a problem for them, do you really think a glossy brochure will do the trick?

Okay – say you have gotten your customer’s attention and a brochure will keep them engaged.

Why then would you prefer a printed brochure over the impact of a digital option? A flat paper brochure (sure, sure there's lovely paper stock, the die cut & the foiling swag) but why that over a multi-sensory, interactive digital brochure with video, audio, animation and direct links to other useful information?

Objection #2: “Customers want something they can take away.”

I hear this objection a lot around tradeshows.

Yes, tradeshows are busy places and you won’t be able to talk to everyone who hits your booth. And yes, it’s important to have a way to capture visitors’ attention and leave a lasting impression.

But there are better ways to do this than with a printed brochure.

What about running a contest or hosting a drawing to collect email addresses? Then you can send them more targeted (digital) information after the show.

Or what about having prospective customers engage with a tablet or a laptop so they can self-select digital content that precisely meets their needs?

Customers go home with heaps of brochures – most of which end up in the trash. A lasting impression of your business, however, can’t be thrown away.

Objection #3: “My product/service is so amazing/premium/unique that a digital brochure just can't sell it as well as a glossy printed one.”

Let's be honest: People buy because your product is premium, not because your brochure is.

It’s not a brochure’s job to sell. It’s the sales team’s job to sell. A brochure’s job is to keep the customer’s attention after the salesperson has left the room. A well-done digital brochure can do that just as effectively, if not more so – plus it’s cheaper to produce and you can track its results.

If you’ve got a premium product, create a premium experience for your customers where your customers are already spending most of their time: at their computers and on their smartphones.


Objection #4: “I / we need to leave something behind.”

Needing to leave something behind is a crutch. I believe even the person who gives this objection knows deep down that the need to leave something behind is more about them than it is about the customer. It makes a salesperson feel like they’ve done their job and that they have a reason to follow up with the buyer – but in reality, there’s no way to ensure that brochure was actually seen or that the buyer does anything other than throw it in the trash.

Printed sales collateral is impossible to measure or track – which means the ROI may be good but most likely it is catastrophically bad - either way you have no insight.

As a marketer, your job relies on showing ROI. Use digital sales and marketing materials with a tool that can track opens, downloads and shares. Digitally shared brochures enable you to show management what materials are working and what aren’t.

I hope this post helps you make your case for ending the budget waste brought on by reliance on printed marketing assets.

If I missed an objection that you frequently hear, I’d love to know about it so I can write up a response to help you deal with it.