Mail can be your handshake from a distance, a way to drop in and say hello without actually dropping in.
COVID-19 (coronavirus) has shaken up the world as we know it in a lot of ways, and many businesses may be struggling under the new way of things. However, for all companies, from those that have moved to remote work, to those still in full operation, these days might present not only challenges but also a number of opportunities. Ahead you will find a helpful guide to help see you through this crisis while maintaining business, making sure you’re prepared for the return to normalcy, and even looking for opportunities for growth in the coming months.
1. Planting Seeds for the Future
Let’s face it, many companies are going to have to grapple with the potential for a decline in business in the coming weeks, from companies that have to close up shop for awhile to those that rely on customers or other companies who have done the same. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do in terms of marketing to let customers know that you’re there and that you’ll be ready to go once all of this is over.
Even in times of complete normalcy, one of the more effective powers of marketing in general is as a simple reminder. A reminder that you’re there so that when a need for products or services that you offer does arise in the future, your name is the first one that comes to mind. This is a longstanding marketing practice, one that isn’t necessarily designed to get the orders coming in right now, but which leads to business down the road when everything returns to normal. To help ensure that when the demand for your products or services returns, you’re the first name in the industry that people think of.
A simple postcard or direct mail piece can get this job done. Not only does print already take advantage of incredible benefits over other marketing mediums in times of normalcy, even in the age of social distancing, a postcard is the perfect tool for the job. As yet there are no reported cases of COVID-19 transmission linked to mail. Mail can be your handshake from a distance, a way to drop in and say hello without actually dropping in. A personal message to let your customers know that you’re here, and you’re ready for them when the lockdown ends.
2. The Open Sign
Some of you out there are working in businesses that are deemed essential, and have remained open and operating in spite of the lockdown. Although you’re undoubtedly taking all of the necessary health precautions, one thing that can easily go unrecognized is the idea that people may simply assume that you’re closed. It’s not as if everyone is out walking around looking for your “Open” sign in the window. You might be losing out on a great number of customers who simply assume that you aren’t open.
Now would be a great time to mail out a little reminder that you’re still in operation. Again, a little postcard or simple direct mail piece gets the job done. This goes double for companies that have simply shifted to remote work. As a non-essential service, people are even less likely to check to see if you’re still open for business. They won’t come to you. You have to go to them.
3. Prepare for the Bounceback Surge
Let’s say your business isn’t fully operational right now. You’re not alone. Countless business are either massively scaled back or fully paused until this crisis is over. Once the lockdown is lifted, however, you have to make sure that you’re ready for the bounceback surge. A lot of companies will likely wait until they’re up and running again before they start working on and sending out new marketing materials, however, now is the perfect time to get ahead of the competition and have your marketing materials ready to go for when things get back to normal.
Likewise, letting your customers know that you’re ready, and beginning to advertise slightly sooner than your competition is an effective way to secure the business of customers who are also gearing up for the bounceback. Remote workers, skeleton crews, and contractors can have a marketing push ready to go not just on time, but ahead of the end of the lockdown and, importantly, ahead of the competition.
4. Special Discount Offer
Now more than ever people are on the hunt for a deal. Although people are tightening their purse strings these days, for many, splurging on non-essential products and services can play an important role in relieving a bit of stress and anxiety and maintaining some normalcy. Non-essential purchases, therefore, still play a role in the everyday lives of people even during this crisis.
Sending out a print advertisement showcasing your offer will attract deal hunters, reward loyal customers, and give people a chance to engage in some much needed retail therapy. Much like the “Open Sign” you have to go to your customer. In a lot of situations, the same problems persist. You’re going to miss out on customers who simply don’t know you’re still operating. Viewed from this point of view, the special discount offer is a double whammy. Your direct mail piece not only lets your customers know that you’re still open, but it also tempts them with savings.
5. Customer Loyalty Outreach
For the great number of businesses that have had to close their doors for the foreseeable future, making sure you’re still building a customer base for the return to normalcy is a smart move. Of likewise crucial importance is letting your current customer base know that you care.
This also applies to companies that are still in full or partial operation. Letting your clients and customers know exactly what steps your company has taken to ensure safety while operating, or else letting them know your reasons for temporarily closing up shop, will not only give them the information they need to understand the situation of your particular business, but it will also let them know you have taken the necessary precautions, and that you care enough about the customers to explain the situation to them.
Another way to let customers know that they are important to you is to include a loyalty discount in your direct mail piece to ensure they head for your business first once the lockdown is lifted, and to demonstrate that you value them and depend on them.
6. Assess. Don’t Panic.
All of us out there with a closet full of toilet paper and a pantry overflowing with cans of beans know that panic reactions aren’t always the most logical. Business as usual might be out of the question for a lot of companies right now, but that doesn’t mean that something close isn’t attainable. Don’t let panic decisions get in the way of that.
As discussed earlier, preparing for the bounceback surge is a smart move, but in a lot of situations, there’s work that can be done right now. Companies operating at partial capacity, or those which have newly migrated to remote work, may be experiencing some adjustment pains. Now is the time to see what works, rather than focusing on what you’re missing out on. Take a step back and look at all of the new technologies, workflow solutions, and communication methods that are available to you. And then hit the ground running.
While your competitors are probably considering slashing and paring back, now is the time to take advantage of the lack of competition and try to avoid the pitfall of losing all momentum. Once you’ve taken stock of what’s still up and running, put it to use. Push ahead with what you can, and innovate in the areas that have taken a hit. Come up with a new marketing push remotely. Experiment with new brainstorming ideas. And then get it to print! That’s the real secret here. The sooner you can get out there and demonstrate to your customers that you aren’t panicking, the more likely you’ll be able to put them at ease and maintain their confidence in your business throughout this crisis.
The Big Picture
This is a time of adjustment. You need to look at what can work for your individual business and what needs some change. It’s tricky to find that sweet spot of adapting to the changing situation and maintaining what works, but there are some unique marketing approaches that can do everything from let your customers know you’re there, to letting them know you appreciate them, to letting them know you’re not panicking. With no cases of COVID-19 transmission being linked to print, direct mail is the perfect medium for your marketing approach.
Planting a seed for the future can help build brand recognition/loyalty with past customers and potential future customers alike. This is a good approach to try for companies that have closed up shop for awhile. It may not lead to a sale right now, but it can help secure one down the road when things return to normal.
The “Open Sign” is a great thing to try out for those businesses that are still operating either remotely or as an essential service. A lot of customers simply aren’t going to go out of their way to find out if your particular business is still open when so many others are closed. You have to go to them. Send them a simple print advertisement or postcard just to let them know that you’re open.
Preparing for the bounceback surge is another tactic your business can engage in to make sure that you’re ready to go for when things return to normal. This step isn’t really about a particular marketing message, but rather a general philosophy of getting ahead of the competition. If you wait until the lockdown is over to prepare your next direct mail piece, you’ll be ready to go at about the same time everyone else is, however, if you prepare now, you can get out ahead of the competition.
A special discount offer is a great way to service those customers who are on the hunt for a deal. Likewise, shopping is simply something to do on lockdown, and there are potential customers out there looking to take their mind off things and let go of a little anxiety by splurging on non-essentials.
Customer loyalty outreach is a great way not only to explain to your customers exactly what steps your business has taken during this crisis, but also to let them know that you care about them.
Finally, avoiding panic is a through-line approach to good business during this crisis. You want to assess what works and what doesn’t work. If you’re still operating but at a limited capacity or newly remotely, don’t panic. Try to meet the goals you would have normally had outside of the COVID-19 lockdown, and then try to innovate around the difficulties involved therein. Showcasing to your clients and customers that you’re still able to perform, even with a limited crew or new workflow, can go a long way in instilling confidence.
If you’re looking to maintain the confidence of your customers, and want to engage in some of these unique and timely marketing approaches, give United Mail a call today.
By Kenton Jetton