In a Digital Age, Don’t Forget Paper


Paper is my nemesis — it lives in poorly organized stacks on too many horizontal surfaces in my life. Much as I hate how it smothers the desk, paper is still an offline tool that marketers shouldn’t ignore, even in a digital era.

For instance, websites may have turned traditional glossy fold-out brochures into wastes of dead trees and money, since they can deliver the same kind of overview information more efficiently, flexibly and to a larger audience. But smaller handouts and leave-behinds can help drive traffic to a website if they’re put in front of the right people — think palm- or business card-sized pieces left at a conference booth or passed out at an event. And despite the demonstrated power of online fundraising, plenty of nonprofits continue to use direct mail because it still works for them (though a new group would probably want to skip mail and go straight to building an online list).

It’s really just another example of integrating your tools, with offline marketing helping to drive online traffic of many kinds, from advocacy list-building to product sales to music promotion. Of course, you can green-up your paper materials by printing them only on-demand and by using recycled materials when possible. And also note that smaller pieces may require even better creative work than usual, since they’ll need to be both noticeable and comprehensible at a glance. But of course, that’s usually key to getting noticed at all in the clutter these days.

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