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Repositioning Your Direct Mail Plan for 2020

Check out this article on Forbes!

Remember that great marketing plan you had for 2020? Yeah, me too.

The coronavirus crisis means that all of our carefully made plans are out the window. But you can still salvage your direct mail plan and make it an important part of your strategy as you pivot to face the new normal.

With email and other types of digital marketing, as well as TV and radio, it’s a struggle to avoid missteps. This is not a time for marketing as usual or to be aggressive in pushing your message. Direct mail gives you an opportunity to be incredibly focused and relevant to your audience, while also being smart and empathetic. Based on my experience working for a company that supports direct marketing programs, here are my tips on how to do so.

Trim costs carefully. 

In nearly any crisis, shutting off all of your marketing is a recipe for oblivion. You need to keep your brand out there offering products and services that provide solutions. But you can take a look at your costs and make minor adjustments. For example, switching to a lighter paper or cardstock will not have much of a marketing impact but can likely save some money on your campaigns.

Segment your data. 

Data is the king of direct mail marketing. But to be worthwhile, it must be accurate, reliable and up to date. Only then can you focus on the audience segments that know you best and provide the best return on investment (ROI) as you navigate these uncertain times. For example, focus on your frequent or recent buyers first.

Also, keep an eye on your geographic segments as the outbreak and economic shutdowns affect different parts of the country to different degrees over the next few months. Depending on your business, you might need to hit pause on direct mail for a time until the worst of the crisis has passed in a specific area.

Help your audience. 

Your audience right now is challenged like never before. Many are scared — of getting sick or of losing their jobs or their businesses. What can you do, authentically and meaningfully, to alleviate their concerns?

First, take a step back. Instead of leaning in hard with aggressive marketing, build awareness for your brand with direct mail that provides helpful content. Talk about how you understand the difficulties that they’re facing, and that we’re all in this together. Show how you’re contributing to your community or to a cause.

Second, focus your offers on providing help that addresses their current concerns, instead of what existed just a month or two ago. People and some businesses still need many services and products, including those you offer. Continue mailing, but adjust your copy and images to emphasize how you are dependable, responsive and, above all, safe to do business with.

For example, if you’re an HVAC services company, show how you protect your customers and workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) and proper customer service training before they ever set foot in the home.

Third, acknowledge that many people are facing hard times economically. Jobs have been lost or disrupted. Businesses and schools are closed. How are you stepping up to help them when money is tight? Payment plans, fee suspensions and price cuts show that you understand their hardships and want to keep them around as satisfied, more financially secure customers.

This mindset builds trust in your company and is also the right thing to do.

Final Thoughts

When facing wide-scale health and economic uncertainties, we have to move forward as best we can week to week, not quarter to quarter.

Seize this opportunity to help your customers and, at the same time, enhance or shift your brand’s value proposition. Conditions on the ground can change rapidly, and new needs and wants will arise.

Remember, people still want to receive your messages. They still have problems you can solve. Carefully and respectfully remind them of what you can do for them, in bad times as well as good.


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