By Bob Salvas
Imagine the excitement that was generated in the 1830’s with the invention of the telegraph and later that century, the
telephone? In more recent years, the fax, email, cell phones and text messaging have taken the front seat in the drive to
be the hot new communications medium. New technology is always exciting, especially when it helps us to better communicate
with each other.
Once a communication channel is established, it does not take long for the marketers to jump in. Their excitement with the
new technology is even greater than that of the consumer as they often see it as a ‘road to riches’.
But is it?
Low-cost high-tech alternatives available today have led many businesses to go almost exclusively ‘digital’ with their
marketing. They post to social media, send free or low-cost emails to your computer, and push out voice and text messages
and alerts to your cell phone. While it may be an efficient strategy, it is not always an effective one.
A major case study published by Millward Brown in 2009 actually looked at scientifically understanding the human impact of
hard copy compared to the newer digital forms of communication (Millward Brown- Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of
Direct Mail). They used functional MRI scanning to determine how the brain actually reacts to physical versus virtual stimuli.
Here are their key findings:
-Tangible materials leave a deeper footprint in the brain.
-Physical material involves more emotional processing, which is important for memory and brand associations.
-Physical material produced more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization”.
The scientific results of this study clearly indicate what experienced marketers have known for a long time. People make
purchasing decisions based on emotion and memory and a tangible item elicits both responses more dramatically than a digital
message. It makes business sense, therefore, to include an offline marketing strategy to complement your online marketing
strategy. And that offline strategy works best when you put something into your prospect’s hands. Your marketing should
include easy-to-hold physical items such as direct mail or promotional products (or better yet, both!).
Some might label this as ‘old school’ marketing…but what’s old is new again!