Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Don't Believe the Analysts, Articles or OEMs: Paper Is Not Relevant

There once was a clever advertisement floating around stressing the futility of going totally paperless. The example was a world without toilet paper.   When the pro-paperless character requests toilet paper, his partner slides a tablet under the door showing a picture of a roll of toilet paper.


My response to the metaphor is a bidet; no paper required.

The fight for paper has been raging since 2007 - around the same time managed print services started going mainstream. Over the last few months, amid the news of Lexmark selling, Xerox diverging, HP splitting, paper plant closures and the massive consolidation of the dealer channel, it's odd to see more blogs and articles with titles like:

"Print Lives"
"Paperless office remains a pipe dream for many"
"Why paper still rules the enterprise"

Article based on information from as far back as 2009, the year before the iPad.  Oddly enough, manufacturers of devices which scratch marks on paper, fund these studies.  That's right, the people yelling "paper matters" and "the death of print has been greatly exaggerated" are the same folks profiting off the sale of copiers and printers. Huh.

Surveys sponsored by print OEMs are receiving press coverage like:

"According to a new, independent survey of over 3,600 European employees commissioned by Epson Europe, 64% indicated they’d prefer to read reports and brochures on printed paper, citing the ability to ‘share/handout’ (53%), ‘read’ (44%) and ‘edit/annotate’ (41%) as key factors."
-IDM,  January 29, 2015

How can a study "commissioned" by one of the largest printer concerns on the planet be promoted as 'independent'?

Does one need to draw you a picture?

Everything from green printing, security, print big data, to mobile print is getting a spike of media attention - artificial buzz created by well funded marketing departments.

My response to all this "paper is still relevant" talk is Bravo Sierra. Poppycock.  Horsefeathers.  Bollocks.


I'm saying this to the copier sales folks, the managed print services practice managers and sales people, the toner crews, and everyone in the trenches - listen deeply to the noise, do not ignore the propaganda, analyze the content with a dubious eye.

Remember, your prospects DO NOT READ THESE ARTICLES.  Unfortunately, ownership and sales management are consuming this tripe like it's 1999.

Nod your head when these reports are regurgitated during your Friday evening sales meeting and smile whenever one of your colleagues exclaims with glee, "Print isn't dead."

Clients don't want to be tethered to a copier, chained to a printer or slave to toner cartridges.

"And in your heart, you know I'm right."

The dirty little secret?

Our OEMs knew this back in 2007 and have been concocting ever since.  The progressive manufacturers are reducing sales acquisition cost with a virtual channel; take a look at HP Instant Ink

Considering most of the buying process is completed without a sales relationship, and today's machines rarely require service, how relevant is a local dealership?

Now is the time to side with your prospects - sure, sell the shortsighted ones a copier or two - but keep your eye on the horizon.  Dive into all the training you can and develop your personal brand.

The wave is coming, be ready to jump.

Click to email me.


  1. It's funny to me too, as a copier salesman. Everyone is so adamant about going paperless but the only companies who could make a major impact on office supply companies, like large corporations, don't know how to go about becoming a paperless environment. They print all day long because they don't care about saving pennies, and they lack the initiative to overhaul their entire network infrastructure to make it happen. In fact the question I get most nowadays is "how fast is the scanner?"(that is attached to a copier/printer. I agree with you that some companies have made great strides to reduce their printing, but the simplicity of pen(or toner) and paper is tough to beat. Just my two cents from the other side of the table. Keep writing!

    1. Hahaha.. I like the Ted Talk video about guy needing toilet paper. I have been hearing paperless for 15 years now and how stand along copiers will be serviced by your IT company. Thank You for sharing