It has been a standard marketing axiom for the past three decades: People just don’t read anymore. Originally, this thinking was attached to the printed word, as in “people don’t read books, or newspapers anymore.” In recent years, however, it has become a more general indictment — one which has been used to justify everything […]
It has been a standard marketing axiom for the past three decades: People just don’t read anymore. Originally, this thinking was attached to the printed word, as in “people don’t read books, or newspapers anymore.” In recent years, however, it has become a more general indictment — one which has been used to justify everything from how much copy should be used in marketing materials to how much funding should go to education.
Way back in 2008, Steve Jobs, discussing Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader said, “the fact is that people don’t read anymore.” He noted: “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.”
Yes, research proves we spend less time with the printed page. Books and newspapers, especially. But here is where the generalization rings false: Many people (perhaps you) are actually reading MORE than before. While the web and digital devices have changed what we read and how we read it, for many, it has also increased our appetite for information. And, with it, the amount of time we spend reading. (If I’m not mistaken, you’re reading this right now.)
A plea for reality: Marketers, it is time to stop generalizing that ‘people don’t read,’ and begin understanding that more people ‘do’ than ‘don’t.’ This is not meant to endorse our growing literature-averse population, nor defend an appalling drop in grammatical standards. It is simply to say that well-written words are still a powerful weapon and that there is still (and in some cases, a growing) audience for their readership. Of course, it helps if you actually have something to say.
Remember: people don’t read what’s in front of them; people read what interests them. The basic principles of context and relevance still apply as new trends emerge: Every post, text and ‘tweet’ simply give us the ability to be more immediate and more intimate.
Businesses take note: Not only do people still read, in many cases, they read more. Social media in all its forms have given new relevance to the written word. One could argue (and I am) that for many businesses, the written word has again become the most important marketing tool there is. If you’re still reading this, you just might agree.
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