Why Print?

woman reading a magazine
Technology continues to play a larger role in our day-to-day lives, so it’s no surprise we’re often asked the question, “Why print?”

If you don’t know much about N2 beyond the fact that we produce nearly one thousand unique monthly print publications, that’s a valid question.

N2’s high growth rate landed us on the Inc. 5000 for eight consecutive years. But despite our progress as a predominately print media company, the digital era still has people wondering why we’d choose to build our business in a traditional industry. So, here’s the easy answer: Print works for us. And, more importantly, it works for our partners, and it’s what our readers want.

To date, N2 has publications in 47 states and has been recognized on countless Top Culture and Best Places to Work lists. Our print publications provide a livelihood for more than 600 Area Directors, they create jobs for more than 300 Home Office team members, and they give more than 30,000 advertisers a unique way to reach their target market. And, each month, we hear from hundreds of happy residents and advertisers encouraging us to continue doing things the way we have for more than 15 years. As they say, don’t fix something that isn’t broken.

I believe N2’s success begs a slightly different question. Instead of why, let’s talk about how. With the help of feedback from our residents and from N2 leaders, here’s my list of how this “old-fashioned” media product places itself in a league of its own – delightfully disconnected from digital.

1. Print is
sense sational.

The feel. The smell. The look. The sound. Print engages the senses in a way digital never will. When our residents finish reading over one glossy, carefully laid-out page full of entertaining stories, colorful photos, and intentional white space, they enjoy the thrill of turning the page to something brand new. It’s like unwrapping a gift with each page. Smell the ink. Hear the swoosh of the page turn. It’s an immersive reading experience that never goes out of style.

2. Print offers a screen break.

Staring at computers and smartphones is now a workday norm. Most of us (guilty as charged) continue to check emails and social media well past office hours. And then there’s television. A 2019 survey by OnePoll found that adults spend about 42% of their time awake looking at screens. That’s nearly half the day. When it comes to reading for leisure, it’s understandable that the last thing we want is to read a long story or article staring at the same computer screen. Print has a kinesthetic feel – a welcome escape from the tech that’s invaded our lives.

3. Print is simple.

Not everyone fits into the tech-savvy category. For many, the task of opening a PDF sounds foreign and impossible. They are overwhelmed by the thought of technology or have never needed to become familiar with it. Therefore, they do not want – nor will they ever want – their news and stories delivered digitally. As society gets more advanced, everything is at our fingertips. So, for this group, it’s the same “I just wish I could get a human on the phone” argument. What can we say… people love the simplicity of how it used to be.

4. Print is specific.

Unlike news sites or “spammy” email blasts, our printed publications are only available for whom they are intended. This is a win for both the neighborhood residents and the local business owners who wish to reach them. Mass media like the major newspapers and big traditional media outlets are downsizing, yet what we’re seeing is niche, very specialized printing is on the rise across the country. Advertisers are willing to pay for the quality and targeted reach that comes with this. Because our business model allows publications to be so targeted, residents know they will read about people and happenings for which they care. And thanks to a little something called FOMO (fear of missing out), any neighbor would essentially risk being “out of the know” if even one page is left unturned.

5. Print has a shelf life.

Have you ever found an article or recipe online you loved enough to save to your bookmark bar, only to face a 404 Error next time you clicked the link? I certainly have, and it’s frustrating. Just another way print media differs. Not only can our residents physically hold their publication, but they can save it. It’s preserved in its print form, ready to be displayed on a coffee table, saved privately in a memory box, or even framed and hung on a wall. It’s not meant to offer fleeting, instant information. It offers stories and photos you want to return to time and time again. Though not a comprehensive list of every way print media remains relevant, the five points above are a start – my initial answer to the question we get often, and to the one I love to answer: “Why Print?”

How does print stand out for you? Share your thoughts!