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Paper and Its Place In Your Marketing Mix

Environmentally friendly          Global climate change             Landfill

Sustainable                              Eco-conscious                          Recycle

Carbon footprint                      Paperless office                        De-forestation

They are words we see in the news every day. Why? Because a growing number of people are concerned about the state of health of the global ecosystem in which we live.

Marketing Mix

At the same time, the printing industry is not always viewed as environmentally friendly. Paper use is often shown as an example of bad environmental practices. But what are the facts?

  • The forest products industry plants more than 1.7 million trees per day.
  • For every tree harvested, several more are planted or naturally regenerated.
  • The number of forests today is about the same as there were 100 years ago.
  • If many forests were not used for tree production, the land would likely be used for commercial and/or residential development.
  • For every ton of wood harvested from a forest, 1.47 tons of CO2 are removed from the air and replaced with 1.07 tons of oxygen.
  • In 2009 over 63% of paper consumed in the US was recovered for recycling. (The recovery rate for metal is 36%, glass is 22%, and plastic only 7%.)

Printing and paper have their place in the way we communicate.

Electronic media has made a tremendous impact on the printed word. Printing is now just one of a number of ways that information can be spread. There is a great debate on whether electronic media is more effective and more environmentally friendly. The arguments depend on who is presenting the case.

Here are a few details that play a part in the discussion:

  • 81% of consumers read or skim advertising mail delivered to their home.
  • Direct mail generates the highest response rate. (Direct mail response rates are typically measured in single or even double-digit figures when targeted. Other forms are measured in hundredths of a percent.)
  • 35% of marketing budgets are used for direct mail. The ability to reach people and get a response is effective. (Combining print with electronic can boost response.)
  • The printed piece involves more areas of the brain and contributes to better learning. (Online media lends itself to a more superficial processing of information.)
  • Research is being conducted about the use of e-books in the classroom. (Early results indicate some students feel eReaders are too rigid for use in the classroom.)

Direct Mail

Here’s an example of other considerations involved in the ongoing debate.

Many financial institutions are pushing their customers to go paperless. However, these companies generally archive documents online only for a few months. At the same time, the IRS can audit for up to three years after a tax return has been filed or six years in cases where income was substantially under reported. How would someone who needed to present critical evidence obtain these records if they were no longer online?

Identity theft is another ongoing concern that is at the center of the paper vs. paperless debate:

  • 15% of online banking customers have stopped receiving paper statements from their primary bank.
  • 9% of identity fraud victims who know how thieves obtained their information says it was from a stolen paper
  • 12% say it was from computer viruses, hackers, spyware or “phishing”

Print and electronic media will continue to compete for their share in the communication mix.

If you are interested in learning more about paper and its effectiveness in marketing and learning, you’ll find a new campaign presented by Domtar Paper Company highly entertaining and informative. The multiyear campaign will utilize a variety of publications and methods to provide information to the public. Of particular note is their website:

While the conclusion of the debate is nowhere in sight, a lively discussion is sure to keep both sides busy. Meanwhile, working together is the best strategy for print and electronic media to coexist.

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