Most people agree that we are facing an unprecedented phenomenon. The sheer volume and scope of the Covid-19 virus is set to surpass any other disease the planet has faced in recent times. But the most troubling aspect of the virus is that we don’t know the full extent of its potential damage. Each day, as I wake up, the world is different. It’s a bit like the ancient saying, “You can’t step into the same river twice.” This ever-changing newness has solidified into the new norm.
But the world does not need to stop. The economy is showing signs of a 2008 recession, but, like in 2008, the economy did not collapse and led to unprecedented opportunities for savvy marketers and investors. As long as people have money, they will spend it. When people spend, the economy moves.
As a marketer, that should be good news. So I say let the marketing and buying continue.
Since you are reading this newsletter, there is a good chance you send direct mail to your customer or prospects. But you might face a slew of concerns:
Does direct mail carry the virus?
Is the post office going to shut down?
Is it a good time to send direct mail?
Is email better at this time?
Does it carry the virus? No. It does not. Evidence shows that it sticks to surfaces like doorknobs and counter tops, where temperatures remain constant, but in environments where the temperatures are in constant flux, as in the case of direct mail and shipping boxes, the virus cannot persist. Further, we and other direct mail companies are taking increased efforts to ensure our plant and products remain free from the virus.
Is the post office going to shut down? No, The post office has no plans of shutting down, as it is an essential business for communicating.
Is it a good time to send direct mail? Yes. As of writing this article, two counties in Kansas have restricted travel outside the home. Those two counties contain one-third of the population of our state. And in places like New York and California, the governors have enforced new measures for social distancing. This means people are home and more apt to receive their mail.
Is email better during this time? Most companies are emailing their customers. How many have you received today? Just this morning, companies like Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowes, and Best Buy have sent new emails to my inbox. And those are just about the Covid-19 outbreak. They and many others have double-downed on their email marketing emails, hoping that if they play their cards right, they can capitalize on the fears generated from the outbreak.
But there is a problem. Too many emails and your inbox becomes an amorphous blob. And as much as you try to make your email stand out (using capital letters, stars, hearts, etc...), it still won’t stand out when there are THAT many emails. The mind has a curious ability to grow numb to messes. Place one dirty bowl into a clean sink and it will bother you. Stick one into a heap of other dirty dishes, no problem. You will get to it later.
Email follows the same principle. If prospects and customers are getting overloaded on emails their minds skip over the stack. The other problem with email is its inherent design. In an inbox all the emails have the same shape and look. It’s simply a stack of rectangles. As much as you want, you are locked within those confines.
So, where does direct mail come in? Direct mail comes in as the best alternative to email. Not only are people home, but it doesn’t suffer from the bloated inbox problem of email. Even with a full inbox, it stands out, or can stand out, much better. Direct mail comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes. The other day, we mailed a die-cut football. Yes, it was literally in the shape of a football. You can’t stack footballs in an inbox, but you can in a mailbox!
If you are feeling disheartened during these times, don’t lose hope. Now is the most important time to be marketing, and direct mail is the one of the best channels for doing so.