The “Print is Dead” Objection

By | September 15, 2014

If you Google the question, “What percentage of email is SPAM?” the answers range from a minimum of 88% to a high water mark of 94%. That is incredible when you think about it.

I don’t have a grasp on the number of emails that I receive, but I know that when I come in to the office in the morning, there are typically 30 emails waiting for me and only 4 or 5 avoid my filter.

A few hours later, before lunch, I head to my mail box. Increasingly, it’s spectacularly unencumbered by mail. Gone are the solicitations and colored postcards. Only an occasional paper bill and a check, the local weekly newspaper, and a handwritten letter from my mom and dad remain.

While I was gone, eleven more emails came in, only one of which is personal. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete. And now I am ready for work. Annoyed, but ready for work.

It’s funny to think about what has happened. Our clients have decided to stop mailing. A common objection is now, “Print is dead. We are putting everything on the web.” In theory, that works. I mean, if you don’t print and you don’t mail, you’ll save a bundle.


How are people going to find out about your website? Through Facebook? Seriously? Are customers delusional enough to think that their company is so fascinating that customers are waiting on their every Tweet?

Oh, I see. They are planning to use broadcast email. Perfect! Constant Contact is a wonderful company. I use it myself, in fact. But the definition of SPAM is unrequested email communication and those companies have, at best, an 88% chance that the customer is going to see the email.

Meanwhile, across town, the mailbox is empty. What little that does arrives is unique and different and gets scrutinized and reviewed. Hmmmmmm…..

In the rush to save money and cut costs, companies are instead cutting ties and lifelines with prospects and customers. Print is an integral part of any social media campaign. Mailings drive traffic to websites. Variable data connects the specifics gathered in the “Contact Us” process and delivers information that is relevant.

Print is dead? Not to those who seek to differentiate. Not to those who want to find an underutilized and spacious medium, one that is uncluttered and familiar. Before all of the lemmings jump off of the cliff, let’s remind our customers where print fits. Just don’t put the message in an email.

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2 thoughts on “The “Print is Dead” Objection

  1. Shelley Sweeney

    The opportunity here is to reach consumers through simple, focused content. Getting your message noticed in today’s oversaturated media world is an ongoing challenge. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, so successful marketers need to focus on relevancy and personalization in order to cut through the clutter. If you create meaningful, engaging content, then there shouldn’t be distraction; customers will clearly see your content and will still want to open your email.

    Although, current statistics speak volumes about the importance of direct mail, even in today’s digital world. Shoppers who receive a direct mail piece directing them to an online site spend an average 13 percent more than those who do not receive a printed piece. Now is an exciting time for the printing industry because brands are creating innovative, inspiring and impactful printed pieces that engage consumers both traditionally and digitally. – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

  2. Mike Porter

    Yesterday my internet connection was down so I took advantage of the break in the action to delete 3,000 emails from my inbox. I never even looked at them. Obviously it’s been a while since I did some housecleaning, but when I get busy those messages pile up in a hurry. Most days I receive ten times more emails than I have time to read.

    I feel sorry for the people who work hard to create, test, and distribute those messages. They have only 30 characters or so to distinguish their email as one of the few I choose to read. I probably vaporized some really great relevant and personalized email yesterday, but with so much to wade through there’s just no time to separate the engaging content from the batch and blast efforts.

    In contrast, I look at every single piece of marketing mail I retrieve from my curbside box – about two a day. It may not all be compelling content but at least it gets seen. The mailers can use the entire surface of the mail piece to communicate the value of looking at the contents. Even if I don’t take action, they’ve gained some brand awareness. I don’t think email messages enjoy the same benefits.

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