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Direct Mail, Envelopes and Digital Fatigue

Direct Mail, Envelopes and Digital Fatigue

Thanks for taking a break from scanning through your e mails to read this.  So you may be thinking: “Ok, Mr. Smug, how do YOU know what I was doing?” Well, I lay no special claim for my simple assumption.  It’s based on my personal experience of how I and most people I know start and spend so much time each day; reading and responding to e mails. 

Let’s face it: most of us spend a lot of our professional and personal time on the computer or mobile device. Hard to believe that this wasn’t the case going back a mere twenty five years or so but a generation in digital time might as well be a century.  For better or worse (and I happen to think it’s mostly for the better) we are now captives of the screen.

As a result of the speed and ease of digital communication, the use of ink on paper has declined. No big revelation there obviously – mail volumes at the Post Office are down significantly in the past 15 years and the printing and envelope industry has been characterized by consolidation especially since the recession of 2008 and 09.  I think it’s pretty obvious that this trend will continue albeit at a slower pace than in the recent past. But the degree to which that happens will in large measure depend on how resourceful we are.

Have we become inundated with electronic messages to the point where the simplicity of the printed page is a relief?   After a long day at work; much of which is spent “on the screen”, I can say that lying in bed with my daughter and reading together out of an actual book is a most pleasurable experience. Aside from spending quality time, there is some sense of comfort and stability that I derive from the book; no glare, no freeze ups, no expectation of a response, no rush.

Is it possible that direct mail which used to be derided as “junk” is now a preferable medium when compared to the unrelenting barrage of e mails, texts and the like?  Is the sheer number of digital messages we receive daily making us less likely to pay attention to them?  In my personal experience, the answer is yes to both of those questions.

Now I happen to work in the envelope industry so there is some bias in my view. (ya’ think?) But the fact that as an item proliferates the less value it holds is an application of basic common sense; not to mention basic economics.

Our challenge in the envelope printing and printing world in general is to take advantage of the unique attributes of direct mail; it’s targeted, tangible, and flexible with enormous capacity for personalization, creativity of message and measurability of results.

Putting into the hands of an individual a creatively designed, beautifully printed envelope that contains a personal and cogent message is our ticket to continued viability as an industry. Now if the Post Office can get its costs under control and stay viable itself, we’ll have something we can rely on for the next twenty years.

As always, your comments are most appreciated.

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