Chester Carlson, inventor of today’s Xerographic printing technology

Top: Chester Carlson, inventor of Xerography (1938); Bottom: Xerox Production Digital Print Technology (Present)

It was a Saturday afternoon in late October 1938. Inside a second-story Astoria, Queens apartment, a patent attorney named Chester Carlson was working feverishly on an innovation that would forever change the landscape for how business was conducted for decades to come. Carlson’s invention, the world’s first dry copy, would eventually lead to the formation of Xerox Corporation.

Today, Carlson’s xerographic process is still at the heart of most office printers and copiers around the world, dramatically impacting the way businesses operate and we communicate. It can be argued that the digital age – and the access to information it enables – began with the xerographic process.

A recent Mashable article discussed this very notion, attributing Carlson’s innovation to the rise of modern computing. Ironic, then, that many of print’s naysayers predict the fall of Carlson’s xerography to come at the very hands of the computing era his innovation helped pave the path for.

But don’t worry, writes Patrick Henry of WhatTheyThink: No matter what its critics say, print is doing just fine. In fact, 76% of small businesses state that their ideal marketing mix is a combination of digital communications and print.

To commemorate more than 75 years since the first xerographic image, here’s 5 reasons why print should be part of your marketing mix today, tomorrow and always:

1. Print Provides an Opportunity to Differentiate

In an average week, consumers receive 16 pieces of printed mail, compared to 100 emails.


  • 96% of media users still read trade magazines to keep up on what’s happening in their industry, with 45% saying they read a print magazine at least weekly (ABM)
  • The United States Postal Service found that 98% of consumers bring in their mail the day it is delivered, with 77% sorting it immediately.
  • Roughly 80% of all physical mail is opened, while the open rate of emails is only about 20% (DMNews)

2. Print is Viewed as Trustworthy

  • 56% respondents say they found printed material to be the ‘most trustworthy’ of media channels (Print in the Mix survey)
  • The same survey found that nearly half of the respondents said they’ve retained a direct mail piece for future reference, and 17% regularly do so.
  • A study by VTT found that consumers trust advertising in print media more than any other media.

3. Print Connects the Online and Offline Worlds

  • Printing Industries of America found that 67% of online searches are driven by offline messages, with 39% of shoppers making a purchase.
  • Shoppers who receive a direct mail piece directing them to an online site spend an average 13% more than those who do not receive a printed piece (Printing Industries of America).
  • 77% of consumers receiving printed catalogs visited a retail store due to products or promotions in a catalog (InfoTrends)
  • Websites supported by catalogs yield 163% more revenue than those not supported by catalogs (Printing Industries of America).

4. Print Delivers Results (Think Lead Generation!)

  • Printed catalogs influence online purchasing behavior

    Click to get the latest Catalog stats

    Print delivers a higher response rate compared to email. The CMO Council found that the average response rate for emails is 0.12%, whereas the average response rate for direct mail is 4.4%.

  • Just 11% of marketing emails are opened, while the open-rate for prospecting direct mail is 91% (Mail Media Centre).
  • Cost-per-lead is lower with print than with email. According to Printing Industries of America, acquiring a lead through a printed catalogs costs, on average, $47.61. Meanwhile, the average cost per email lead is $53.85.
  • 79% of consumers act on a brand’s direct mail piece immediately (Print in the Mix)

5. Print has a Proven, Loyal Following

  • Consumers expect Direct Mail, as 33% of those surveyed say they’d have a negative view of a brand not offering printed communications.
  • 70% of Americans prefer to read printed paper over a digital screen, with 67% preferring the feel of print media (TwoSides).
  • When it comes to transactional statements, Two Sides found that 64% consumers wouldn’t choose a company that didn’t offer a paper bill option.
  • 75% B2B professionals read magazines on weekly basis, with 68% choosing to read niche publications specific to their industry.