Why Print When It Is Online?

I really like going to my mailbox. With less and less mail being sent, I like reaching in to find out who still cares enough to mail something my way.

Don’t get me wrong, there is the odd “seriously” moment, such as when Valpak sends me yet another one of their envelopes. I have yet to open one (sorry Valpak). But these are minor disruptions in my “mail moment” as the USPS loves to call it.

Last week, I had to heave a five-plus pound Uline catalog out of my mail box—628 pages offering thousands of enticing packaging, shipping, janitorial and other products. If memory serves, they send me a new edition at least once a year.

Thanks guys, but to my recollection I never have (and never will) order from you. I have no idea how I even got on your mailing list, or whom you are buying your lists from, but I am not your ideal customer. Not by a long shot.

The law of economics
While we all have heard of the legendary Sears catalog of days too far back to remember, most companies have changed their tactics. Less pages, smaller in size, but greater frequency. They know that print still entices people to shop, be it online or over the phone.

And this is perfectly fine. I like getting my Title Nine catalogs and Nordstrom magazines: 20-40 pages, easy browsing and recycling. But here is the difference: I actually shop at those stores.

The old adage still applies: It is easier to get an existing customer to buy than to convert a new one. Following this rule, you should check your mailing lists (or help your clients to do so).

Based on ordering history, divide the clients into groups: those who order a lot, less frequently, hardly ever, and me (the ones who have never ever ordered from you, even after five or more door-stopping catalogs).

Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 

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  • Lisa Addario

    I’ve contacted ULine several times in the past to ask them to, please stop sending me new catalogs every 3 months. What’s worse – they send them to everyone in my office as well. We don’t need this many catalogs. No one does! All that ever changes is the cover from what I can tell. They are a wasteful company and it lowers my perception of their brand marketing choices.