You might think that the CEO of a personalized consumer print products company wouldn’t be surprised to receive a physical card in the mail. However after a recent meeting with a potential vendor, I received a personal hand-written thank you card for the time I spent. Not only did the vendor get my business, but I’ve also developed a personal connection with the representative – in part because of the impact and the physical presence of this note, that took him no longer than a couple of minutes to write and send. That episode got me thinking: How can something so ancient and mundane as a paper card have such high impact?
I’ve heard most of my life hearing that print is dead, or at least clinging to life support, and the paperless office will soon become a reality. For example, Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, said, “Paper is no longer the master copy; the digital version is.” Increasingly content is created and distributed digitally and multi-tasking in the name of speed has become a way of life for many people. The computer exacerbates this behavior by providing nearly instantaneous access to a myriad of communications and content that provides petabytes of distraction for even the most focused and dedicated. In my example, part of the impact was that the design of the stationery was pleasing enough that I left it on my desk and it reminded me to take action long after an email would have been lost in my in-box.
Add to that an increasingly transient population that connects to friends and family through the cold light of a computer monitor and it’s no wonder many of us are left yearning for a more tactile human connection. This leads me to my belief that there’s a new intersection of digital and analog, where tremendous opportunity awaits. Throughout history as technology has evolved one form has never replaced the previous version, it has always augmented it. The question is not print or digital, it’s about choosing the right medium for the occasion and with advances in technology, it’s easier than ever to tailor the medium to the message for the most impact.
For example, brand owners have a myriad of content that is created for digital distribution. Most of it is viewed and forgotten in a moment. However solutions that create new channels for this content to take new forms, increases it’s permanence. The launch of RPI’s Personalization Storefront provides one tool that provides the ability to extend brand content form digital into a physical product that allows customers to increase engagement with their customers.
I believe that physical products are an impactful method to rise above the noise by using them to augment the digital content we are all sharing. For example paper is a cost-efficient, familiar medium that elicits a tactile experience, exciting the senses of touch and smell, in addition to sight. Physical products that communicate your message can provide a subtle reminder of the important over the urgent, dramatically extending the life of your content, increasing personal engagement and in some cases providing the final compelling reason to purchase.