How to Cure Screen Fatigue

I’m from a generation that cannot live without an internet connection. I don’t just use it to communicate both at home and at work through emails and social networking, I rely on it for shopping and downloading music, I book holidays on the internet, do my banking on the internet and use it as my instant encyclopaedia. Because, like me, the rest of the world has become so accustomed to the virtual world of the online shop front, there is now a tendency to see the company website as the be-all and end-all of the marketing spend.  Increasingly, I meet people who spend nothing or next to nothing on tangible sales collateral while investing in a whizz bang web site that looks fantastic and has all manner of tracking tools and functionality to ensure it impresses the user and delivers valuable click through data.

Now, I would be the first to advise any client that having an excellent website is a first priority for their marketing campaign – after all, just about all their prospective customers will look them up online and judge the quality of the organisation by the quality of their web site.  However, a conversation I had with a designer this week made me view this fundamental with a new perspective.

I was sitting in the designer’s reception area waiting to be collected for a meeting and browsing through some of the examples of work that had been left on the coffee table. A brochure caught my eye and I started to look through it.  It was the kind of brochure you’d expect to find in a high end car showroom; all fabulous photography, high quality paper stock and special finishes. It was quite simply beautiful to look at and extremely tactile. I commented that I didn’t think anyone had brochures like that anymore.

“More’s the pity,” the designer replied. “People love to have something that they can pick up and leaf through. You did, didn’t you?”

And that’s the hidden danger of online marketing; as important as it is, it’s not the only way to communicate. No matter how ubiquitous the internet is, there is no substitute for something you can touch, flick through and pop in to your briefcase. So next time you’re dividing your marketing spend between online and hard copy activity, just remember how much easier it is to differentiate with a tactile piece of quality design than it is to stand out against the thousands of things we all look at on screen every day.