Paper means that you mean business.
Paper remains an indispensible part of business in the Web age.
In fact, while computers are firmly entrenched as the main work tool in most offices, people continue to print out key documents for important meetings, and turn to printed sources for reliable information. In addition, many organizations will tell you that their customers respond better to print advertising than on-line messages. In business, paper and electronic media are not incompatible. They are the perfect complement for one another!
Knowledge is power in any business, and computers and the Web provide virtually unlimited access to information and opinion on every topic. To manage the scope of this wellspring of data and to extract what’s important, many business leaders and their teams are pressing print or relying on other forms of print media. Indeed, according to a poll conducted by Doremus and the Financial Times, 60% of the senior executives they surveyed across North America, Europe and Asia said that when they want in-depth analysis, they turn to print.1
This reliance on print is not the exclusive purview of the executive. There is also a notable preference among professionals at every level for reading printed documents compared to online, especially when they are working in a team setting or need to really assimilate information. A 2009 study conducted by Harris Interactive® on behalf of Earthtone revealed that 64% of workers prefer ink on paper when it comes to reading. Ironically, the rate was even higher (70%), with employees of technology companies.2
And why is this? Research has shown that, among other things, many people find hard copies more practical to manage during presentations or group discussions because they are easier to navigate and annotate than electronic documents. What’s more, it has been argued that we learn differently from the printed word than from a screen, and that we may actually learn better from a book, newspaper or printed report than we do using a computer.3
Print also continues to be the preferred medium of many consumers.
The Doremus/Financial Times study revealed that nearly two thirds (64%) of the executives they polled said they pay more attention to print ads than online ads. Direct mail also remains a highly effective marketing strategy, with 80% of people reading or scanning promotional material they find in their mailbox4 and many making purchases as a result. Print remains highly effective in the competitive business-to-business (B2B) marketing arena, with many customers favoring print ads over online versions. In a USA Strategies survey, new product introductions, print ads and editorial coverage were viewed as the most important advertising options by B2B customers5.
FedEx Office, in its third annual Signs of the Times national survey of small businesses, demonstrated that small business owners also see the value of print, revealing that well over half of those surveyed (61%) believe traditional marketing and advertising methods are more effective than web-based counterparts at bringing in customers.6
The reasons behind the enduring popularity of print may be as varied as the customers themselves and the products they are buying, But, as Alexa Wigging, Director of online marketing for PC World magazine pointed out, there are also a number of practical constraints that can lead a customer to choose a traditional print document rather than a rich media file, such as software compatibility and upgrades, and an office environment that may not be conducive to listening to audio files.7
No one is suggesting that online document sharing or advertising are not practical and effective business tools. But, it is clear that a strategically placed print ad or a colorful, printed presentation continue to have a strong impact both in the conference room and on the bottom line. Printed and electronic media work well together to reach the widest audience possible for a brand. And isn’t that what business is all about?
1 Senior Execs Prefer print Periodicals (and Ads) over Online Versions, MarketingVox, 2007
2 People Prefer It. Businesses Depend On It. What’s Next for Print Media? Business Wire, 2009
3 Darden Shares Results of Kindle Experiment; A Comparison of Reading Paper and On-Line Documents, Kenton O’Hara and Abigail Sellen, Rank Xerox Research Centre in Cambridge, 1997.
4 Innomedia, Inc. National Study Concludes Consumers Value The Mail
5 USA Strategies
6 Small Business Owners: Print Ads Most Effective, Print in the Mix
7 Videos, Podcasts, Webcasts – Don’t Forget the Print Documents, Janice King, 2008