Faxes will change the world

faxedApril 1, 2009–It’s time to get real: the future of new media is not happening. We at the Lab have finally decided that our forays into online and social media, and even our digital library are not viable. We have experimented, we have played, we have tinkered. We have begged, pleaded and tweeted. And after much hand wringing, we feel our purpose at the Lab comes down to a single, highly effective solution: fax machines.

Fax machines, we feel, are the future of global communication. Not to mention social networks and the printing press. There is no other medium that combines digital and analog so seamlessly. We thought the iPhone was the answer, but really–have iPhones and Blackberries really made our lives easier? Oh, so you can hold the accelerometer up to the sky and see what star constellation you’re looking at. Oh, fine, so you can hold up your iPhone to the stereo and it can identify the song being played. And great, I can count my calories, keep track of my expenses, bank, buy things, and call people. But has it really, truly brought us closer together? Have our Blackberries made it any easier to exchange ideas and information? I doubt we can honestly say it holds a candle to the fax machine. And for marketers, what could be better than a machine that takes you right into your customer’s offices and living rooms?

Think about the possibilities of the fax machine. Fax machines print on paper. How useful is paper? You can fold paper, you can staple it, you can transform it into paper airplanes. (If you’re focused on sustainability, fax machines can print on recycled paper). Fax machines are also a ubiquitous platform that can be dialed from any phone, anywhere in the world. Fax machines have international reach–a note here, make sure you print out and laminate your international country code list. (We’d fax that information to you, but we’re still learning to kick old habits, like emailing and pinging web links).

There are critics of the fax machine who suggest Web faxing is the solution. But again, we’re getting back into new media there–which goes against the fabric of the fax machine. Web faxing requires that every one of your customers has a computer and an Internet line. This is just not realistic. Studies have shown that in particular, during a down economy, customers may stop buying computers and may cut their Internet cable and DSL lines–and with the fax machine as a cheap alternative, who would blame them? You can even use a fax machine as a phone, something that, understandably, may make mobile phone carriers a little nervous.

Brother makes some excellent models, here are some of our favorites:

And here are some excellent campaign ideas we think represent the cutting edge of fax culture:

-In your digital out of home campaigns, think of including your brand’s fax number as another touch point for engagement.

-Faxes crack open user generated content. Think contests for the best drawn fax…get creative, break the mold.

-Have your customers call in your fax numbers, and see what exciting dial tones you can provide for them that will keep them coming back–perhaps even let them download your fax’s dial tone as their mobile ringtone?

-Give away fax machines to the influencers. If you’re able to identify which customers are the leading faxers among their demographic, you can target them with increased faxes, engage them in a fax dialogue, etc. Who knows the impact once they start faxing their friends about your brand.

These are just a start to the thousands of campaigns your brand can create via fax. We look forward to hearing about your case studies.

To this end, you can look forward to receiving our newsletter via fax starting in May. We’ll also be taking down our blog and moving it to a fax-based solution which will allow for instantaneous updates to be delivered directly to you, when the news breaks. Look out for our fax-based webinars (we’re calling them “faxinars”) coming in Q3.

…Happy April Fools! Affectionately, the Lab.