Isn’t printing a bit old school? I mean we have new media today that allows us to communicate with almost anyone anywhere at any time. Why would we print? Not only that, but isn’t printing bad for the environment? That’s what many of us think, but we are wrong on all counts.
Here’s a question: Has printing evolved to become the most ecologically responsible of all media?
Let’s look at a few facts and see what we get. Thanks to the efforts of many who are concerned about the environment and who have devoted years to the subject, the printing industry is now one of the few media that can claim to use recoverable, recyclable and renewable resources. In North America, for every tree that the industry uses, it plants three more. The North American forest products industry now plants 1.5 BILLION TREES PER YEAR. That’s 4.1 million every day. The industry has become agriculture. Trees are grown and harvested for use, just like any other crop. According to the Mother Nature Network there are more trees in America today than there were 100 years ago.
So, how did this happen? For many years now, almost every company/organization involved in the printing/forest industries has been focusing on how to improve the environment. In our own company alone, every year as part of our certification, we are audited by Rainforest Alliance to the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) standards. FSC provides internationally recognized standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies, organizations and communities interested in responsible forestry.
Now, let’s have a look at that so called, “environmentally clean” “electronic/digital” media. This media functions on the use of monitors, hard drives, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc., all of them primarily non-recyclable carbon based products. Where does this stuff go once we throw it away? In most communities, it is dumped into landfills or is burned emitting toxic chemicals into the air. It even has a name, High Tech Trash. Where do we obtain the material to make more of these devices? Why, we use more fossil fuels of course.
Guiyu in China’s Guangdong Province is the world’s largest electronic waste site, with an estimated 80% of its 150,000 population working in the e-waste processing business. Source.
We can ignore the facts and listen to the misinformed, but the reality is that every time we buy a new electronic media device, we are contributing to more pollution. In addition, each time we use one of these devices, more energy is required. When viewed, printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint and that occurs at its point of manufacture. The other media require energy every time they are used. The more they are used, then the more energy we must produce. In North America, over 50% of energy is generated from fossil fuel sources. This is not a good ecological situation. Many studies continue to be focused on these issues. Some examples are: the UN News Centre, the Environmental Literacy Council, the It Environment Initiative and many more.
In our company, our multimedia division loves our digital projects, web sites, mobile apps etc., but not because we are under the misguided belief that we are helping the environment. As to which media is more ecologically friendly, we might want to give that some more thought.
Okay, so if printing has a much better environmental record than we were led to believe, how about marketing results? What does print have to offer? According to the Winterberry Group, Direct Marketing mailings grew at a 5.6% rate to $163 billion (USA) in 2011 generating nearly $2 trillion in sales. The ROI on this was $12.00 of sales per dollar of advertising expense versus $5.24 for general advertising. Target Marketing’s 2012 Media Usage Forecast states that 69% of marketers will use Direct Mail for acquisition in 2012. In June, 2012, The Atlantic Monthly Group reported that the print medium is still capturing 25% of the total USA ad spend dollars. Printing and Direct Mail lives and is doing very well, thank you.
The next questions must be: If printing is doing so well, is environmentally positive and is used by so many, how can you use print effectively in your marketing efforts? We reviewed some facts and methods in our communications of May 11, 23 and June 11, 2012. The subjects were Initial Contacts, QR Codes and PURLs. Essentially, printed material is a very effective doorway to your other media connections.
You do remember ME, right? Then you would remember that ME controls the conversation now and ME wants a relevant conversation. In addition, ME controls the method of contact. You must obtain permission to talk to ME with one consistent exception – Mail. Yes, ME will accept your attempt to communicate with them through the mail. It is not considered intrusive and unlike every other method of communication, ME will accept that you did not have permission to do so. Now, if you do not communicate with something that resonates with ME, then you will be ignored and your message will move to the recycle bin and turned into who knows what, napkins perhaps. I do this all the time.
“You had me at hello.” A great line in a pretty good movie, but how often does this happen in real life? Not too often. ME wants more than “hello” and you want to form a business relationship with ME. Next we will have a look at good Direct Mail practices.
Next week: How will Direct Mail get to ME?