A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Print In The Age of Digital

Friday, November 9th, 2012

I responded to a comment earlier today on one of my previous posts. (Beyond Good and Google: Marketing Beyond SEO.)

The commenter’s question was what traditional marketing might still be worth doing? What could he add to the mix of SEO and social media that he was already working?

I said email and direct mail were the two things I would look at first. (Email may not be considered traditional, but it’s certainly not considered cutting edge, or even sexy, these days. SEO and social dominate the landscape.)

For print, which certainly is traditional, it’s worth remembering that audiences still make value judgements about channels and sources. In college, we used to joke, “I read it in Rolling Stone, so it must be true.” when we doubted what someone was saying. I guess we felt that RS wasn’t a paragon of journalistic excellence alongside the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and … wait, was there anything else to read way back then?

Today, that joke is more likely to be about Wikipedia or “the intertubes” in general. Not that there aren’t dubious print publications, but print frequently carries an implied authority. This is true even if it’s marketing materials we’re talking about and not a weighty tome offered by some august publishing house with a history going back to Gutenberg.

If someone has taken the time to put their message on paper, find your address, and mail it, it can feel as if it might be worth a moment more of your time than the average unsolicited email message that lands in your inbox.

That’s not to say consumers, whether B2B or B2C, value it at all – it might still end up in the circular file nearly as quickly as the email falls to the delete key. In both cases, relevance is what will determine value.

If you can provide valuable information, print materials can be an excellent way to break through the clutter. Take it from a guy who tries to keep paper to a minimum in his office. I still pay attention to the snail mail I get.

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