Towards the end of 2019 and the early part of 2020, the coronavirus outbreak had a huge impact on travel and caused major disruptions to societal and commercial functions. Whether it was because of school or business closings or cancellations of international events, nearly everyone was touched in some way by the pandemic and the hysteria it caused in the media and economy.
While this sort of global outbreak is already frightening for personal health reasons, it is also incredibly frightening from a business standpoint due to the major disruptions it caused for annual trade shows, expos and conferences.
Trade shows have been a long-standing, incredibly successful marketing channel for many businesses for years and years, and they have come to rely upon these trade shows or conventions to grow their prospect list and reach new customers that they wouldn’t otherwise know to contact directly.
While this outbreak could be deadly for some businesses, there are steps you can take to ensure your business is able to stay afloat despite any trade show cancellations you may have endured.
If your main marketing channel is trade shows, you can pivot
Our team can show you how to take the money you’d have otherwise spent on hotels, travel, booths and reservations and turn it into physical or digital marketing materials that you can use for years to come.
Whether you live in a state that enforced quarantines during the pandemic or not, the USPS was still fully operational with domestic mail and deliveries. Direct mail, as it turns out, was effectively the only physical medium by which a business could reach its audiences. If anything, the partial or full quarantine in many states actually dramatically increased the effectiveness of direct mail.
Direct mail as the only physical medium available
In the rare situation presented by the coronavirus pandemic, the only physical (non-digital) means of communicating with quarantined customers was direct mail. Many businesses closed their physical locations in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus among their employees and customers, creating an unprecedented, almost alien marketing situation for many brands. Their audiences suddenly went from busy, stressed out employees who barely had time to listen to their marketing messaging to an almost captive audience of people who were either working from home or who were without a job and income for the foreseeable future.
Since the coronavirus doesn't survive long on cardboard or paper, the USPS and other delivery businesses never ceased operations and kept up their mission of delivering the mail and packages to customers, even when they were in quarantine situations. This commitment to consistent service and an uninterrupted flow of goods and messages via mail and shipments is truly a key part of what saved many businesses during this time of decreased commercial activity.
CEOs, CFOs and other individuals in top level positions within their organizations finally had the chance to catch up on their mail, and people who were normally very hard to get a hold of because of their busy schedules were suddenly socially distanced and able to pay attention to the direct marketing messaging they receive on a daily basis but are too busy to notice.
While the economic devastation of the coronavirus undoubtedly had a chilling effect on most business interactions, it did present a number of unprecedented and unique opportunities to reach the major business decision makers in all major industries.
That's why direct mail's importance during this time of economic and operational recovery is so important to the survival of every small, medium and large business out there. Being the only physical medium by which many brands can reach their prospects, its appeal as a marketing tool has been majorly enhanced and it's an opportunity that should be seized as immediately as possible to take full advantage.
Choosing the best printed format for your message
Before you can get your marketing message out there, you need to know what the final printed format of your direct mail piece will be.
For this direct mailing to be as impactful as possible, it's important to keep costs as low as possible while ensuring ROI will be as high as possible. While there are many guides out there on how to do this as efficiently as possible, we've written several blogs in the past that many customers have found to be incredible useful in their decision making; specifically there's one post about the best ways to keep direct mail postage costs low and another post about how to create effective direct mail. Each of these blogs goes into much greater detail about the key advantages of different types of direct mail and how you can strategically choose the best option for your business' next direct mail campaign.
Stay Within USPS Regulations
There are a lot of mailing options available with the post office. Staying within their guidelines can be confusing and frustrating. But, if you know how to navigate their regulations, the mailing process will be smoother and your costs will drop. Here are some general guidelines to help you stay on track:
- Letter size is inexpensive. You’ll find savings if you stay within the 3” x 5” to 6” x 10” range. Above that and they become “flats” which can cost double the price of letters.
- Address tri-fold mailers correctly. To qualify for automation discounts, your tri-fold pieces must be addressed on its center panel.
- Make room for the address. You need to leave some clear space on your mail for the address and barcode. You should be okay if you leave a 4” x 2” space open.
- Fold it correctly. For folded pieces, the final fold should be below or to the right of the address. Other layouts may be acceptable but additional costs will be incurred if it's not a standardized specification on the USPS' list.
- Be mindful of coatings and textured materials. The ink used for addresses doesn’t stick well to some coatings and may rub off during the mailing process.
- To avoid this, stay away from coatings or ask your printing rep what coatings are okay to use.
- Using high quality papers with heavy textures can impact the readability of the barcode.
- When the barcode can’t be scanned properly, you’ll face extra charges on top of your base postage rate.
- Watch for inconsistencies. For automation discounts, your pieces must have consistent shapes and thickness. That means all mail within a single mailing needs to be the same size and weight. You must also stay away from bumps in your mailers. Bumps could be from pens, keys, coins or even paper clips and string.
- Don’t go too thin. Although it seems counterintuitive, the post office will charge you more if your mail is extremely thin. By keeping your paper thickness at 0.009 inches and above, you’ll avoid extra costs.
Remember that these are general guidelines and they may change. To be sure you’re getting the lowest costs possible, call USPS or your mailing service representative.
How to implement a direct mail marketing campaign from home
Since many of the teams that would work on planning marketing campaigns and messaging are working from their homes, it may seem difficult to execute a full scale direct mail marketing campaign. For large marketing teams that are used to having several remote employees on a daily basis, a campaign like this should be a piece of cake to implement.
But for the teams that are used to physically being in the same building while working collaboratively in a group, this may come with a slight learning curve. Due to the unique severity of the pandemic, this often was the only option for teams like these, so adapting quickly is of the utmost importance.
Collaborating while working from home
When working from home, it is absolutely vital for a group to clearly and intentionally outline and disseminate the objectives of each member. Making sure no team member is left wondering what they should do should be the top priority of a marketing manager.
Using a group conferencing service is vital during this phase of planning, as it is often one of the last communication touchpoints a manager will have with their entire team before implementation of the project. That is why it's vital at this stage to make sure every single member of your team understands what the overall goal is and how their tasks fit into achieving that goal. There are several free options out there such as Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting (Free Edition). This should also be where you establish what the deliverables are for each member of your team and when you should outline the turnaround time you expect from each team member on achieving those deliverables.
Once the objectives are clearly stated and the team has broken to work on their respective tasks, provide support for any of the team members who run into problems when working on their component of the project. If the issue that arises is of importance to the entire project, make sure you communicate with all respective parts of your project team to ensure everyone is aware of how it impacts the overall goals and implementation schedule.
Keeping remote team members focused
While managing a team that's working from home can present anxieties for many managers who may not fully trust all the individuals on their team, it presents a unique opportunity for those team members to prove their discipline and abilities while contributing in more focused ways that improve their overall personal work quality. Think of working from home as an opportunity to see what each member of your team is capable of when they're fully focused on their own tasks and goals as well as how aware they remain to the tasks and goals of the team as a whole in the process.
From an operational standpoint, the key teams to have working on a direct mail campaign project are as follows:
- Content writers and editors
- Product managers and messaging specialists
- Graphic artists and content creators
- Campaign strategists and key product or service stakeholders within your organization
Since this type of direct mail campaign may be a new media format for your team, remember to reinforce the idea that building a marketing message for direct mail is just like building a marketing message for any digital media format; but due to the lower volume of marketing messages in the mail each year, it's more likely that your piece will get noticed, especially while key leads and potential customers are at home, potentially in quarantine. So while it's not truly a "captive" audience, it is an audience that is more likely going to receive the messages you send, if not out of curiosity, then out of desperation to have something to read or do.
When the rubber meets the road
Now that your team of marketing and creative specialists have designed something truly eye-catching that will truly help your business grow for years to come, then you're ready to finalize your creative and find a print and direct mail service provider. While most regional printers will only provide printing services, there are a few out there that provide both print and in-house mail center services for conveniently getting your message out even more quickly. As an added bonus, these types of printers provide an increase in efficiency that you will see translate into a decreased cost associated with your direct mailing.
With Conquest Graphics, you can easily build a direct mail campaign from just an inkling of who your target audience might be into a majorly successful, game-changing marketing tool for your business.
Choosing the correct target audience for direct mail will have a huge impact on the success of your campaign and the overall visibility of your product to the audiences who need it most. Fortunately, it's relatively easy to find resources to help you determine and reach your target audiences.
While doing all the research required to build a better mail list can be cumbersome and expensive, there are alternatives that provide a much quicker (affordable) route to a mail list and only require a small additional service fee. On Conquest Graphics' website, you can build, compile, save, edit, order, and fine-tune mailing lists using our mail list ordering tool.
Compile Your Targeted Mailing List Today
Compile Your Targeted Mailing List Today
Or feel free to check out any of our mailed products to see if anything inspires you for your next mailer order.
Popular Mailed Products
Tracking your direct mail campaigns has never been easier now that you can add on mail reporting to any mail orders placed with Conquest Graphics. You can also follow our guide for 3 easy ways to track print marketing and advertising campaigns to learn more about how you can keep your direct mail campaign measurable and actionable from a marketing strategy standpoint.
Now is the optimal time, if ever there was one, to begin a pattern of sending direct mail to your prospects. By establishing this direct, physical line of communication with your prospects and future customers, you build a trusting relationship that will flourish now and for years to come after the coronavirus is a distant memory.
No matter what your marketing woes might be as a result of the coronavirus’ impact, we at Conquest Graphics are more than happy to hear them and to work actively with you to help you find the most cost-effective, beneficial marketing solution for your business moving forward.
How Conquest Graphics is Responding to the Indirect Damage of the Coronavirus
A large part of our customer base relies upon trade shows to build their lead base, which is a vital component of a growth plan for any business. In the past few months, we’ve printed a tremendous amount of material that was either headed to customers to bring to trade shows or headed directly to the trade shows themselves.
The recent cancellations of trade shows were a double whammy for many of these customers who had already bought their trade show materials, as they already invested in the marketing materials for the events that are now cancelled entirely.
It can be easy to give up in the face of such adversity, but for all the small businesses out there, this isn’t an option. Using a little creativity, any messaging for trade shows can easily be transferred to marketing mailers, and it’s still possible to reach all those clients you could have been reaching at the trade shows (were they not canceled).
That’s where Conquest Graphics comes in. Our talented team of print marketing experts can help you make the most of your trade show cancellation disaster scenario by empowering you with unique insight into alternative print marketing channels you may be able to readapt your trade show materials to with minimal effort.
If you’ve already designed or ordered materials for your trade show; they don’t have to go to waste! We can schedule a pickup to retrieve your materials, and we’ll work with what you have to adapt it to a mail campaign.
No matter what your marketing demographics may be, we can help you find cost effective ways of reaching all the contacts you would have reached through the canceled trade shows and conferences you could have attended this year.
The affordability of direct mail, coupled with the accuracy and power of a well constructed mail list can effectively generate the same amount of buzz as an in-person trade show appearance. The key to doing this is choosing a good list vendor and a good printer and mailer.
While it may be impossible to reverse the damage the coronavirus has had for many business’ bottom lines at this point, it is possible to creatively move forward and adapt what your business does have to stand the greatest chance of making it out of this year not only surviving, but thriving.