Is Paper Making a Comeback?

May 2014

I’m getting ready to send a touching-base message to a few select friends and colleagues.snhfuyg

Nothing special, except when you consider how I’m sending it.

I’m sending actual, printed-on-paper, snail-mail letters. In envelopes. With stamps.

Now, don’t be alarmed — I won’t be abandoning my beloved online communications, for myself or my clients, anytime soon. Email, blogs, and social media are as viable as ever in terms of creating a presence and establishing multiple touchpoints with your audience.

It’s just that a few developments have me considering that online communications might no longer be enough on their own, and that the missing ingredient may be not the latest shiny object out of Silicon Valley, but something a little more old-school.

Reason 1: The Online Crush

Anyone seen this cartoon that’s been making the rounds?


No two ways about it: The interwebs are crowded. Real crowded. Check out these stats:

  • The average consumer receives 78 emails per day; the average corporate user receives over 100. (Source)
  • More than 1,500 posts are eligible to appear in a user’s Facebook feed every day. (Source)
  • More than 500 million tweets are sent every day. (Source)
  • There are over 152 million blogs on the Internet. (Source)

Even if your content is awesome and you’re wielding best practices left and right, that’s a whompin’ lot of traffic to cut through in trying to get your message across.

True story: One of my contacts is considering insisting that all her vendors send paper invoices instead of emailing them. As she put it (paraphrasing here), “I get about 300 emails a day … but I always check my office mail.”

Reason 2: The Free (Social) Ride Is Over

Remember the days when you could publish a post to Facebook and be assured that most if not all of your followers would see it? Me too, … just barely, though.

Know how many people saw the Facebook post about my latest podcast episode on Thursday, May 15? Four. One, two, three, four out of 266 followers. About 1.5 percent.

Now that each of social media’s “big three” — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — has gone public, the push is on to get an increasingly large stream of dollars flowing in. What that boils down to is this: If you want your posts to get seen, you’re gonna have to cough up some cash.

For a long time, social’s big advantage over more traditional methods was that it was free (if you don’t count the time and effort that would go into any content activity). So much for that. 

Reason 3: E-Burnout

The average American adult spends 11 hours a day with electronic media. (Source) Yep, we spend more time staring at blips on a screen than we do sleeping.

The strain (and not just the eye-related kind) is starting to show, and many are saying “enough” … or at least backing off. Groups at restaurants are stacking their phones on the table and sticking with the bill the first person to grab theirs. Videos advocating real-life interactions over online pings, like Jez Kemp’s “Look Up,” are racking up millions of views.

Not only is online consumption eating up our days, but we may not be even retaining most of the information those pixels are delivering. A recent article in, of all sources,Wired magazine cites several studies that indicated students retain information better when they read it in a paper format.

So yes, Little Miss Techie is actually considering adding paper-based communications to my marketing mix, and not just those letters I spoke of earlier. Is paper the solution to overcoming the growing challenges around delivering a message in a noisy, crowded world to an increasingly “e-weary” audience? I don’t know, but I’m willing to give it a shot. I’ll let you know how it goes.

OK, your turn: What do you think about “going old-school” to get your messagethrough? Tell us about it in the Comments — we’d love to hear from you!

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About the Author

Rachel has answerA self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).

As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations. Contact Rachel about speaking to your group or business. Member BizSugar KredFeatured Author on Business 2 Community

See you again next week!

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