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Sometimes people just want to lean back and read

Three months ago, our company bought The Greensheet and the paper you’re holding in your hands right now. In these three months, we’ve changed a few things (this weekly column being just one of them), but we’ve spent a lot more time learning than we’ve spent instituting changes.

Here’s what we’ve learned about The Greensheet: First, we know people still buy and sell from this product. In an age where digital has consumed us all, there’s still plenty of room – and plenty of desire – for a printed publication designed for readers like you. There’s something nice about holding a paper like this and perusing the aisles of products and services offered here.

What’s better is that, every day, we hear from advertisers who continue to invest their marketing dollars with us because they get results from the money they spend. It’s really true: The Greensheet brings you buyers.

We’ve also learned that the way The Greensheet is used today is different from your mother’s Greensheet. At one point, a generation ago, there were few places in all of Houston that compiled as many items in one place for buyers like you. Those days are long gone, because you can search just about anywhere in the digital world and find nearly any product you want.

So why do people still pick up this paper every week? Why is this business still around when so many papers like ours have closed their doors?

Over these past few months, that’s what we’ve wanted to learn more than anything, and we may have found our answer.

If you think about the evolution of our media consumption, we spend more time on phones and computers than we spend talking to any live humans. I’m not sure about your phone, but after I finished an update a few weeks ago, I now get a weekly report of how many hours I spend on “screen time.” Who thought our lives would ever be measured by screen time?

What we’ve discovered, at least in The Greensheet, is that we’re a break from screen time, but we’re so much more. There are very few places where you can scan pages and pages of items and find something you forgot you needed.

Think about it: When you go online to shop, you don’t just open your screen and thumb through millions and millions of pages of anything. No, you go and search for something very specific. You need a hose, you search for a hose. You need a new coffee pot, you search for a coffee pot.

That’s not what you do when you open the pages of The Greensheet. You have a job that pays $35,000 a year, you open the Help Wanted pages, and discover there’s a perfect job waiting for you. That would have never happened if you just searched “Jobs in Houston.” How many websites, how many fake jobs would you see?

The reality of print – more than any other medium today – is that we’re still a place where there’s no pressure to do anything. You don’t have to click on links. You don’t have to worry about scammers filling your inbox. You don’t have to worry about ending up on a call list that hounds you day after day.

If we’ve learned anything in the past three months, it’s that people still appreciate the slower pace of print. Sometimes, people just want to lean back and take a read. That’s a drastic change of pace from using our index fingers to scroll like maniacs through a hundred websites.

Meanwhile, every week here at The Greensheet, we’re still trying to find better ways to provide you with useful information and needed products and services. The businesses that invest with us still understand that you make a wonderful customer, and it’s still our job to connect you with them.

If there’s anything you think we should know about The Greensheet, if there’s anything you think would make this a more useful product for you, we’re still in learning mode, and I’d love to hear from you.

 

Email jmcelvy@thegreensheet.com

Jonathan McElvy