You Have a Lot of Nerve Writing This Post

I have the proverbial angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. I’m not sure which of them is telling me about the unmitigated gall it takes to belittle my own practice in this article, but it’s one of them. Here goes…

Really?  That much?

Two million blog posts are uploaded to the Internet every day¹. That’s enough content to fill Time Magazine for 770 years. Every day, friends. Nowadays any nut job with a modem and a hairbrained idea can put it out there and use it to build an audience. Remember when all that glut was weeded out by readers at publishing houses? Back then, only thoroughly vetted, well-constructed pieces of writing by the most talented and trained writers would be granted the platform of the page. While the Internet has certainly made information available faster, it has also made the supply of digitally published words quite excessive, to put it mildly.

When Something Lands in Your Hands

And then one day you get Zach and Kelsey’s save-the-date announcement. It’s not even the wedding invitation – they haven’t gotten that far – but they want you to plan for a delightful weekend in Mendocino next year and reserve your room before they all run out. You stare at the lovely envelope. It definitely sets itself apart from the rest of the pile. It is elegant, but simple. It’s rich in color and texture, without trying too hard. The paper … feels nice. There’s a foil seal with an embossed heart, and that feels nice too. You open it and extract the card.

Inside, it’s even better. There’s a beautiful photo of Zach and Kelsey◊ holding hands, and closer inspection tells you that its back peels off, so you can stick it on your calendar and block off that monumental weekend next year. The card has instructions for lodging arrangements and a description of the loose plan for each day. You notice, but you don’t, that the paper is casually gorgeous, like Miss America in a sundress. Together the picture and the tactile experience send your imagination to a balcony on the Northern California cliffs on your weekend away. You don’t want to put it down, and with your other hand you grab the phone and dial Mendocino. You just don’t get those feelings from an email or a Facebook post.

The Wheat from the Chaff

To be clear, digital messaging is great, and it delivers tremendous value, but there is a really good reason why paper and print still stand in the digital age, and are perhaps experiencing a resurgence. Words on paper are serious. They are lasting. They exist when the power is out. You can stick them on your refrigerator. You can see them, feel them, and smell them, and those senses conjure recollection and stimulate imagination, and that makes them so much more memorable than they would be onscreen.

You can ask Payton Manning

Over the past several years, Payton Manning has composed and sent hand written notes to players against whom he has competed, and whose conduct he has admired². It’s an elite club of NFL alumni, including John Lynch, Michael Strahan, Curtis Martin, and just a few others. Each of them, celebrated athletes with rings and trophies enough to fill a throne room, has acknowledged the class and grace of this gesture and the treasured keepsake that thoughtful note has become. These are men who, MTV Cribs has taught us, have the means to trade in palatial estates, exotic cars and extravagant accouterments. And there, among their most prized possessions, is a piece of paper expressing the thoughts of a peer.

Paper, Ink, and Sincere Expression

Those simple things combine to trump two million blog posts.  How does your business rise above the glut?

 

1. http://www.mbaonline.com/a-day-in-the-internet/

2. http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=3889519

◊. Zach and Kelsey’s real names and the actual location of their wedding have been changed to protect the innocent, but the experience was very real and the keepsake photo endures.

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