• AMi Direct

AMiable Solution #375: In Defense of Paper


Has anyone ever given you a hard time for “wasting” paper with marketing? Do people refer to your direct mail campaigns—the projects that you’ve labored for days, weeks, even months over—as “junk mail”? Have you ever felt like the environmental bad guy for doing your job?

Maybe you’ve even read opinions like this one, found on the website of a company urging businesses to go paperless: “No one likes them—junk mail fliers that end up in your mailbox each day.”

The general argument against using paper in marketing is usually environmentally based. The charge? Destroying too many trees and creating too much trash. For many companies, organizations, and businesses, however, the urge to drop print for digital is often financial.

But both arguments overlook some key factors. Printed marketing, paper marketing, has benefits that digital marketing just can’t touch. Roger Dooley, who helps marketers “market and sell better using brain science and behavior research,” reports that

  • Paper ads engage viewers longer than digital ads do. That means more donations. More inquiries. More sales.


  • Physical ads cause more activity in brain areas associated with value and desire. If they want it, they’ll most likely buy it.


  • Direct mail is easier to process (mentally) than digital marketing, and it tests better for brand recall. You don’t want your prospects and customers to have to work at understanding your offer or recognizing your brand. Make it easy for them.


In addition, Domtar Paper vice president of sustainability and business communications, Paige Goff, says that a detailed or complicated document—like an offer for a complex or high-end product or service—is usually “easier to read, pass around, and make notes on if it’s printed.” In other words, you’re more likely to intrigue and engage your market.

What’s more, paper producers have gone to great lengths in recent years to replenish the natural resources that paper-making depletes. There are 20% more trees in the United States today than there were on the first Earth Day in 1970.

We’re not saying that print marketing will overtake digital marketing. Digital marketing has its place and its advantages. We’re just saying that direct mail gets a bad rap, and it deserves better than that.

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