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Responsible Marketing

To print or not to print. That is the question.

By December 29, 2008August 19th, 20207 Comments

To print or not to print? The Miehle Printing Press via Wikipedia Commons

At least, that’s the question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately.

We printed and mailed holiday cards to key clients and sent digital versions to friends of the firm and the folks we communicate with regularly in social media circles.

But I wasn’t sure if should send printed holiday cards.

Every card we sent had a carbon footprint: Printing uses energy, and though we print green every one of those cards traveled by truck, and some by plane to ultimately end up the reception desk somewhere, to be hopefully recycled sometime between today and January 2nd.

Still, digital holiday cards just don’t feel as usable or special to me. Even the really cool ones. Color me old-fashioned.

When we’re doing marketing strategy and planning for our clients, we ask the same questions. With shrinking budgets, should we consider a simple PDF instead of that printed brochure or flyer? At certain volumes, multimedia and video are an option, as well.

But if you are trying to build trust, just how permanent does a PDF feel?

It would be easy for me to create a table that lists the advantages of print vs. digital—and I’ll do that eventually.

But I’d like to know what you think.

What do you believe the advantages of print vs. digital are, and vice versa.

Comment below to share.

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Image: Wikipedia Commons

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • For me, print vs. digital has little to do with trust. It’s the source that matters. I don’t “trust” a hard copy more than a PDF, or vice versa, but most of the time, I’m happier to receive something in electronic format because it’s much more portable and sharable.

    However, there is tremendous value in a hand penned thank-you note, both for the receiver and the sender. 🙂

  • Thanks for starting this discussion. It’s something that we thought a lot about this year while planning for the holiday season. Instead of sending out the usual thick stock, coated, foil-stamped seasons greetings, we opted for a lighter, recycled postcard that was both more environmentally and economically friendly.

    But, even with this more conscious solution, a digital solution would still be better in both categories.

    I think this is a big part of the conflicts when it comes to environmental issues. There are social norms and practices that are expected of us, which are in direct opposition of environmental efforts (such as sending out the corporate Christmas cards). You can find other examples all around us, how much we consume, throw away, how big or nice of a car we drive, how often we upgrade our homes and vehicles.

    It’s hard to change habits, especially when we are trying to change habits which took decades and multiple generations to form. But somehow it has to happen.

  • From a personal perspective, I thought about doing a virtual card but realized that doing a print card communicates how much you CARE about the person receiving the card. Think about it – updating the address list, personally addressing the envelope and writing a personal message takes more time then selecting a digital card and sending to a list of emails.

    While there are many options for being more green, and possibly saving money in the process, personal connections are still important for business. I think the barometer is not will I be more environmental but rather how important is the connection for me and my businesss. From that perspective, a PDF may not change anything but a hand written personal note during the holidays may.

  • For things like the yearly Holiday Card or a Birthday Card hands-down, no questions asked printing is the right way to go (for now, at least – who knows what the future brings – maybe holographs?). Especially, when it’s followed with a hand-written message to said client, vendor, partner, etc and ends with YOUR personal signature.

    Too many things in this day and age, while they’ve become more cost-effective, have turned cold and impersonal. And it’s always nice, as a consumer, to get that warm-fuzzy feeling from a company.

  • Phil says:

    Perhaps I come from a traditional place but I am really big on printing cards. Honestly it is a week after Christmas and I am still opening some that I received.

    My problem with email and will become even more problematic within the next few years is open rate. I received 200 emails and who’s do I open?

    A card, although viewed for a few minutes will almost always get opened because its human nature to find out who the card is from and do you need to send one back in like.

    Since we are talking about some from of connection, are you sending out Birthday cards? Marketing is about relationships, how to build loyalty and awareness. It is the little extra effort at a little extra cost that really means a lot to people. FYI, make sure the card is printed on recycled paper and the ink is safe. And if you really want to try some really cool, hey we are marketing people; have them send the card back with their greeting and you dispose of it properly. Now the communication has become Social!

    Phil Shaps

  • Dave says:

    I kind of agree. I wonder what will have to change though for that to happen.

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