It’s a fact. We all take print for granted. After all, it’s been the world’s number one communication medium for so long we tend to overlook its impact and power. That oversight can be fatal to a marketing campaign, product launch or branding initiative that is trying to connect with people. People trust print. They feel comfortable using it, they can’t fast forward past it or empty their email box with a simple click.

The past two years, in response to a slow economy, I’ve seen many companies cut print from their marketing, which in turn, cuts their ROI. The Direct Mail Association found that U.S. advertisers spend $167 per person in direct mail marketing to earn $2,095 worth of goods per person. That’s a ROI of 13 to 1. So, when it comes to building your brand’s message, we can’t argue these simple facts: Printing is for keeps. Who’s minding your message when the screen fades to black? Electronic content comes and goes and when it disappears, so is your marketing initiative.

Print, on the other hand, is here for the long run. Think about magazine pass-along rates. They range as high as two to three persons per issue, giving advertisers double and triple bonuses on their marketing investments. Printing can be consumed anywhere. Long after the iPad is drained, people will still be reading what you send them in print. Print is the ultimate in portability and playability. There are no compatibility issues, no batteries to charge, hard drives to power up and screen glare is not an issue. Print is always there…ready to instruct, inform and entertain. Print makes an emotional connection. Using thoughtful design and messaging, print draws the eye in and new types of papers and substrates create the desire to touch and feel. You can’t get much closer than that. Print enhances your product or service, giving it an emotional appeal and a tangible dimension that no electronic media can impart. Print is credible.

The phrase, “get it down on paper” has never been more meaningful. Having communication you can hold in your hand, examine, share and keep in a safe place provides reassurance that no bit-and-byte medium can match. Although we all love the speed of the internet, its fleeting nature also makes you wonder, “Am I getting the fast shuffle here? And where’d I read that?” Conversely, the ink-on-paper medium is more believable. Print is tangible. Print is real. Print is timeless and print is focused. Print is green. I think it’s a myth that print is bad for the environment. Compared to what? With the speed at which technology is moving, a computer’s average life is about three years, before we want the next best thing. In fact, in the next five years, about a billion computers around the world will be discarded. Planned obsolescence, of course, but where is all that unwanted technology going? It’s called e-waste and it’s not good. So, is sending an email more “earth-friendly” today? The printing industry has never been more environmentally responsible – with FSC certification and the use of soy-based inks and recycled paper. I’m not sure the tech industry has even started to address the magnitude of the footprint they are creating. Essentially, what I’m saying is, “Print has been the world’s favorite medium since a little-known monk asked Guttenberg: “How much do you want for that Bible?” Print surrounds us and we cannot ignore the power it holds in making authentic and meaningful connections with our consumers.

Today it is about knowing your audience and using all mediums for your marketing and branding strategies. If only I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “Let’s just connect with our consumers via an e-blast. No printing, paper or postage costs, and in times like these we have to watch our bottom line.” I just say to that person, “Well, most certainly, that is if you think it’s OK to invite your Grandmother to your wedding via email.” Content source: ©2006, The Print Council, Washington, DC,