Submitted by: Sam Upton April 30, 2020
The continuing spread of Covid-19 and its tragic effects has left very little of the print world untouched. The combination of an economic lockdown and staff either furloughed, laid off or working from home has completely transformed the industry landscape, with the majority of print companies reporting a significant decrease in order levels.
There are however, glimmers of light in the darkness. A number of areas within the print industry, such as food and pharma packaging, as well as suppliers for the NHS and other public service sectors, are as busy or busier than ever. And with the rapid decline of experiential marketing, many commentators are seeing an opportunity for direct mail.
With most people spending the vast majority of their days at home, being able to get a piece of mail or a doordrop directly into the hand is a big advantage for any brand, particularly at a time when marketing is dominated by TV and online. Offering something physical that communicates an appropriate message can be a powerful way to build a brand or ensure loyalty once this is all over. And for charities whose donation levels have been hit hard by the virus, direct mail offers valuable levels of engagement and ROI.
“[Direct mail] will certainly have more attention now from people than it’s ever had in the past,” said Simon Biltcliffe, Chief Executive of marketing agency Webmart, in an interview with PrintWeek. “People are at home and if something comes through their letterbox, they will look at it. Print will be a really strong medium for people to build their brand and awareness.”
Brands should understand the power and effectiveness of print. While TV has the reach, it remains a highly expensive option for many companies and organisations, plus it lacks the targeting power of DM and partially addressed mail. Of course, right now many people are living their lives online, but the constant bombardment of online ads and content makes it difficult for any company to really cut-though and engage a consumer.
Done well, direct mail has the power to stop people in their tracks, grab their attention and compel them to take action. The physical nature of the medium also means that it’s likely to stay around in the home for longer – 17 days according to the Royal Mail study ‘The Private Life of Mail’.
What’s more, direct mail has a perceived value and importance that virtual media simply doesn’t, which is why the Government and the NHS have been using it to communicate key messages and health advice to the population throughout this crisis.
In any crisis, marketing is usually the first budget to be slashed. But marketing experts agree that continuing to communicate with customers during a crisis is vital for brands, keeping them front-of-mind for consumers that will want normal life to return as quickly as possible once this situation is over.
“The best time to market to people is when others are not,” said Robin Sumner, Managing Director of marketing agency Romax. “After the initial panic subsides and the society accepts the ‘new normal’, then trade will return swiftly – those that have continued to promote during that time will be ahead of the curve.”
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