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Rock, Paper, Scissors…Digital?

I read an article (Paper Beats Digital for Emotion) that affirmed something I have long suspected:  print is not dead.

Let me elaborate a bit:  most professional service companies I run into have all but entirely abandoned print (direct mail, printed newsletters, etc.) in favor of what is perceived to be the much more affordable digital or email approach.

No matter how “free” it is – and it’s not, you’re spending time creating the email content – if it’s deleted before being read it is a waste.  Some things to consider:

  • Who among us has not culled their email, deleting anything that is not of the highest priority, just to be able to face the rest of the day?
  • When was the last time you spent any time, energy, and creativity coming up with a subject line that compels the recipient to open the email?
  • How many months, years have you used email marketing for lead generation?  How many leads have resulted in a discussion?  How many leads have made it to your pipeline?

The research project referenced in the article above presented subjects with paper-based and digital marketing and “used fMRI brain scan to show that our brains process paper-based and digital marketing in different ways, and in particular that paper ads caused more emotion processing” which meant higher recall of brand and message.  The paper-based is processed as “more real” by the brain.

I think there are other benefits to paper marketing.

With less people using direct mail, for example, your direct mail piece has less competition.  You gain a bit of novelty.

Business mail doesn’t arrive until later in the day.  Unlike the barrage of email that populates the inbox once your prospect logs on, she may have a couple of cups of coffee and be feeling much more upbeat and able to focus by the time the mail arrives.

If you make your piece a bit of a mystery (unusual packaging, bright color, 3D with a little lagniappe inside) yes, it will be more expensive per piece – but it will enjoy a higher open rate.
With the piece costing more, I believe it causes you to be more attentive to the list (which should be highly targeted).  I’d rather get 18 percent response from a list of 100 than zero response on a list of 3000.

I practice what I preach.  What I have found is that people do remember what I send.  I make it colorful, fun and three-dimensional.  It also seems to generate a call to action beyond what I ask for – in that some of my recipients may not be ready at the moment, but have made referrals of associates who are ready.

Finally, I’m not throwing email marketing out like the proverbial baby in the bathwater.  My philosophy is that all marketing works if backed by a strong strategy, a targeted, meaningful message and value for the recipient, email marketing can work too.  But there is nothing wrong, and probably something shrewd about employing a tactic that is not being used by the competition.  People notice when you do something different from what everybody else is doing.

2 Responses to Rock, Paper, Scissors…Digital?

  1. Robert Wood says:

    Interesting perspective. Personally, I’m more likely to throw away a piece of paper snail mail marketing, but if it comes into my email, I have it auto sort and file and read it at my leisure along with several other pieces at the same time.

    If it comes in the mail, it gets thrown into a pile of stuff that I’ll probably never get around to reading unless it’s something I’m expecting. Or if it’s unusual.

    Something to think about for sure.

  2. Rod Watkins says:

    I can understand this perspective. Communications made on physical media, such as paper, support messaging options not available online such as touch and feel.

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