Readers of this blog know that one of my regular topics pertains to why ink (or graphite!) on paper is a superior way to send a message of any type.
I was drawn back to the topic after reading this excellent article titled “Worth A Thousand Words” by Sarah Schutte. Ms. Schutte writes specifically about photo albums. You remember them, right? Those bulky books crammed with photo prints many of them so embarrassing that you wish they weren’t part of the family history?
The author states, “There is a special, irreplaceable beauty to the physical, tactile reminders of your past that cannot be recreated on a screen.”
I think this point applies more broadly to anything printed. The ability to touch and hold something: a photo, a message, an elegantly printed sheet, adds a physical sensation dimension that just doesn’t exist in anything sent or viewed digitally.
Now, you may think I’m getting a little carried away with this when I’m speaking of direct mail marketing. I mean, no one is really getting teary-eyed when they get a pitch in the mail in the same way as when they view a photo of someone from their past who has departed or a letter from someone meaningful in their life.
Well, I’ll admit I do get a little sentimental about printing, mailing and envelopes. While they have great value even today, they are vestiges of times past. But that’s part of their power! We are all connected in some way by the continuum of time. And things that stand the test of time are always going to have more value than the ephemeral.
One of the chief characteristics of the digital age in which we live is how fast things can change. This is great for many things not the least of which are medical advances which these days have even greater importance amid a pandemic. But it also creates a kind of “change fatigue”. As much as some of us want to believe we’re all about the future, our past is what binds us and gives us meaning. And tangible things like a well-designed printed piece, while of the present, can be preserved, even if preserving means keeping it on your desk or kitchen counter for a while and re-reading it or just having it remind you.
How many emails have you deleted today? How many have not even made it past your spam filter? And do you remember that text thread from six months ago? Or that social media post?
Direct mail, which includes a nicely printed insert and printed envelope is an essential component to any well-balanced marketing campaign. Make someone’s day. Tell them you think they're important and worth the effort. Send them a letter!