How to Use Direct Mail as Businesses Begin to Reopen

By NAPCO Media

After weeks of stay-in-place orders, states are gradually starting to reopen. As businesses and organizations begin to resume operations, now is a good time to use printed direct mail to reach out to customers and prospects.

You are probably contemplating the best ways to communicate with your customers in the recovery phase.  Summer Gould, President of Eye/Comm Inc., offers the following timely tips for restarting direct mail use. These are tactics that you can use in your direct mail campaigns.

Align Imagery and Content with New Societal Norms and Guidelines

As commerce resumes, social distancing and other measures to combat fear and a second wave of illness will likely continue. When selecting imagery for direct mail campaigns, avoid images of people in groups, touching, or at events. Instead, find other images that are compelling to convey your message. Likewise, avoid using terms in marketing copy that involve touch and closeness.

Strategy and Relevancy Matters

When developing a direct mail program, clearly define desired outcomes and how your plans will meet them. Keep in mind that sensitivity and relevancy always matter. Consider what customer segment is the best target for an offer. The most successful direct mail campaigns send the right offer to the right person at the right time. The long-time, 40-40-20 rule of direct mail success still applies. According to the rule, 40% of direct mail success is linked to the offer, 40% the list and 20% to creative and messaging.

Focus Marketing Messaging on the Real Value of a Product or Service

Do not try to capitalize on the crisis. While it is acceptable to mention any changes that an organization has instituted as a result of the crisis, do not have a COVID-19 sale or attempt to profit from the situation. As Gould writes, doing that would be “just tacky.”

Also, don’t dramatize the crisis for your company’s benefit. Keep marketing messages focused on how a product or service will help potential customers. No matter the circumstance, people appreciate companies and brands that stay grounded and focused on providing value to their customers. Effective direct mail pieces educate, entertain, or inspire prospects into action.

Be Empathetic with the Audience

Always show sincere empathy for what your customers are experiencing. In good or bad times, direct mail campaigns should not come across as insensitive. Campaigns that convey optimism, hope, and humanity tend to elicit better audience reactions.

The Bottom Line

Lastly, in all outbound communications, be sure to position your organization as a friendly, trusted resource that helps and cares about its customers. How you communicate with customers and prospects contributes to how your brand is perceived and remembered. Taking this position demonstrates to customers and prospects that you are the organization they want to do business with. Following these guidelines will help you ensure your direct mail campaigns avoid insensitive mistakes and hit home.


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Ricoh Business Booster Community has engaged NAPCO Research to provide our members with this ongoing series of advisory articles on the COVID-19 pandemic.