Pen, Paper and the Digital Age


Every day our team at 21 Handshake is immersed in technology. We live in a virtual world of marketing that produces very real results. We use a wide variety of digital tools including Teamwork , Evernote and Hubspot to get things done, but many of us here still write on a calendar, take notes or keep notebooks. It got us to thinking with all these digital apps available, why are we still so connected to pen and paper? Turns out we are not the only ones asking the question.

Advantages to Writing it Down

A year ago, the Huffington Post posted an article describing the advantages of writing things down. They found that taking notes actually fires up the brain in a different way than entering data on a keyboard. It better cements the information in our memory. They also discovered that writing things down takes more time, and that is a good thing. It seems writing things down forces you to think about what you are writing. Entering information digitally can be view by the brain as more of a task. There is another benefit to writing things down. Writing on paper keeps you away from checking email, Facebook or other distractions so easily found on a digital device.

A Forbes Magazine article on the subject came to similar conclusions. They went so far as to suggest speakers at conferences ask the audience to take handwritten notes when they speak as opposed to using their digital devices.

We see it every day. Hotel rooms still have pads and pens. Most waitresses still take orders using a pad and pencil. Even Millennials, raised in the digital age, can prefer paper and pen in many cases. These are people who have an expanded network of friends and always seem to be connected to a handheld device. Yet according to Publishers Weekly, most of them still prefer paper books to read.

Is the Bygone Marketing Era, Really Gone? 

 It also got us to thinking about our clients at 21 Handshake. When they initially approach us (or vice versa) many are coming from a marketing era that included radio, television, print, direct mail, and trade shows. Part of our mission is to show them a better, more efficient way to use their resources. But you know what? Like pen and paper, there is still value in marketing some of those ways.

Without question, marketing has changed dramatically. Using content to build inbound digital marketing efforts is valuable and accountable. Implementing a solid social media strategy to build your brand is critical. Connecting with prospects and clients through CRM automation can make your digital marketing efforts much more robust. All of that being said, there is still value in a printed business card. There is something to be said for sending a significant client a handwritten note of thanks in the mail. There is still power in a handshake and looking someone in the eye.

The 21 Handshake Mission

Yes, at 21 Handshake it is our mission to help our clients transition into digital marketing. It is our job to show them how best practices can keep them connected and enhance their relationships. It is part of our job to guide them through the maze of options and put them in the best position to compete. We have to occasionally remind ourselves however, that even we sometimes prefer a pen and paper.  


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Isaac Oswalt

Owner of 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. Futurist in nature, Isaac displays a deep desire to preserve the human element in today's business. Trust being the ultimate currency, his clients appreciate that "new and stronger handshakes" is a success metric in their businesses.

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