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  • Writer's pictureChas Akers

Marketing's "Secret Weapon" in the Midst of COVID-19 #CollaborationOverCompetition #TogetherWeWin

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

As mentioned in an earlier post, my gut tells me that Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and perhaps Graduation for DTC (Direct-to-Consumer Marketing) could be SIGNIFICANT marketing opportunities for some of you if you are fortunate to be surviving this crisis. This post is relevant to many, notably "web-only" based DTC businesses. I also want to remind you that I'd be as considerate as possible when implementing email campaigns or potentially considering outbound telemarketing. Bear in mind, that many of your customers and prospects that are still employed are likely working from home and navigating the already overwhelming task of doing work, while possibly raising children.

But what if I'd told you that there is one marketing channel that can reach your existing customers and prospects that currently has a literal “captive” targetable audience. It has the least amount of friction, is now underutilized, and whose variable price is only sensitive to volume as opposed to demand. That channel is Direct Mail. I know this channel works for these occasions, having been in the "gifting space" during my days at RedEnvelope, which was founded as a D2C "pure-play" way back in the late '90s. It also works for my clients today. Direct Mail, especially catalogs, allowed RedEnvelope to continue its growth path while dramatically reducing its cost per acquired order. It literally helped save the company.

Believe it or not, there is still time. Let's go back to the future.

If you are not already utilizing Direct Mail, and/or not familiar with it, please understand this. Deploying this channel doesn’t happen at the speed of digital, so time is of the essence. You must act now if there is a chance for you to take advantage of this opportunity. Now isn't the time to attempt to make things perfect. You’ll need to let go of your “perfectionism” and go with the opportunity that will serve customers, and protect businesses. Many Direct Mail solutions can work for just about everyone, given various timeframes, resources, and, to a degree budget.

Given the dictated time constraints, here are a few Direct Mail options that are ranked by "Ease of Execution."

1. Oversized Postcards

2. Self-Mailers

3. Catalogs

Oversized Postcards

Most straightforward device to produce. Perfect for driving traffic to your website or your phones to promote a singular product/campaign/event, showcase a few products, and to deliver an OFFER. Let your website do the heavy lifting for closing sales. Very few technical landmines for the uninitiated.


Perfect for showcasing your best-selling products. Self-mailers can be bi-fold, tri-fold, gated, accordion fold, z-fold. Good chance you could fit the top 10%-20% of your products that generate 80%+ of your sales in one of these devices. The benefits listed for Oversized Postcards apply as well. Some technical landmines for the uninitiated.


The most challenging out of the three to produce. It allows for more story-telling and branding. If you already have content that can be re-purposed to allow for more consumer engagement, great. If not, I'd stick to the basics. You want to seize the opportunity, not compete for an advertising award. Base the page count on merchandise needs and the message/offer you are trying to communicate. Smaller page counts will likely suffice. Don’t get overly picky with design or paper. Refreshing an existing catalog can be useful too.

Adding a “wrap” promoting the opportunities/events I’ve outlined could be a winner as well. Basic catalog design, potentially using a digest or Slim Jim format, will expedite the process and MAY allow you to get in the mail in time for these events. Lots of technical landmines. If you are not an expert in catalog marketing, hire one. It will pay off in spades.

Editor's Choice

If I had to weigh the cost/benefits of the three options, and considering timelines, your likely best bet would be a Self-Mailer. The most precious resource you now have is time. In terms of budget, the two components of cost are "fixed" vs. "variable." Design, photography, copy, and project management are fixed costs. Fixed costs increase proportionally with the complexity of the Direct Mail device. Variable expenses are generally printing, paper, postage, lists, and merge-purge. These costs decrease as the quantity increases. There are some fixed costs in these variable costs as it relates to "minimums." The key here to have enough customer/prospect data to create a campaign that has some scale. Direct Mail is often a "volume game" for it to work. If I had to pick a Direct Mail device that would be a "Double" or a "Triple," and if you haven't already started a Direct Mail project as of yet, or if you are new to the game, I'd likely go with a Self-Mailer.

Rehash: How Can We Promote #CollaborationOverCompetition and Help Each Other?

Many of us have skills and resources that others do not. If you are not an expert in D2C marketing, looking for a second opinion, or would like to explore potential opportunities in detail, of course, I'd love to hear from you. But the "pie," the "opportunity" is much larger than that. If your business is still in operation and has some budget but lacks staffing for a particular need, there is a whole community of "gig" creatives, agencies, and other marketing professionals that can quickly pivot their experience to assist. Also, many other supporting businesses have the capacity and would love to take on any additional work.

As #CollaborationOverCompetition relates to DTC marketing, I have a few more ideas to throw your way as it pertains to the occasions I've outlined, and I will attempt to provide those to you early next week. Let's continue to support each other, stay positive, share ideas, and be #Ameri-CAN.

Please be safe and well. Reach out to me if you need some help. No strings attached!




#CollaborationOverCompetition #MothersDayD2CMarketing #FathersDayD2CMarketing #GradsD2CMarketing #DirectMailRules! #WeAreInThisTogether #TogetherWeWin

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