What is This ‘Paper’ Thing Anyway?

Just over a decade ago, Microsoft Executive Dick Brass predicted that by 2012, paper will be a thing of the past, and that book publishers would run ad campaigns to save the print medium. Well, here we are, in the first weeks of 2011, and unless something drastic happens, we think we can consider that statement to be false. It is worth noting, however, that it is just barely false. After all, we are living in a time in which restaurants hand out e-menus.

It can’t really be argued that paper is more convenient than digital versions of the same content. An e-reader can carry hundreds of books at a time, and even most cell phones have a memo application that puts the “Post-Its-covering-my-desk” system to shame. So what is it about paper that has kept the ancient media form alive through the digital revolution?

Sentimentality, for starters. This is a concept that many fundraising groups have been capitalizing on for years. People have a natural connection with objects that they physically hold in their hands, and ads printed on paper count as objects to the brain. This tactile memory connects past experiences to current ones. In this way, something like a mass-printed postcard can hold a similar emotional charge to a person’s first birthday card or a letter from an old friend. This is something that email will never be able to replace. Charities and fundraisers prefer print media, because it is harder for people to say no to that form of contact.

Smart marketers are picking up on this trick. We’ve already mentioned that the end of 2010 saw resurgence in print media. Consumers are not blind to marketing tricks. People know how easy it is to send an email out to 400,000 people. However, in an age where families and friends communicate almost entirely online, a letter – even one from a company – can do amazing things.


Founded in 1989, WebbMason is one of the fastest-growing print and brand management service companies in the United States, helping marketing departments and their internal and external partners save money and streamline processes through a winning combination of industry expertise, exceptional print supply chain partners and technological innovation. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland, WebbMason has 20 sales offices throughout the United States.


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