Is B2B Print Marketing Still Effective in 2021?

It’s still very early in 2021, and there is a ton of uncertainty ahead of us. However, one thing that I am sure of is the fact that last year millions of people mastered working from home. Their home office space feels like “home”, most have learned how to un-mute at the beginning of a Zoom call, and they have been able to find a balance between work and home when both occur at the same location.   

As a result, according to a study by PwC, 55% of US companies anticipate that most of their workers will continue to work from home long after COVID-19 is not a concern. Considering this fact, how can we effectively leverage print marketing when our audience may not be in the office?  

The Number 1 Most Neglected Part of Marketing Plans  

Let’s start by focusing on what is often the most neglected piece of many direct marketing plans – knowing who the target of your marketing efforts is. Whether you are mailing a printed piece or sending an email, these are targeted marketing efforts that require list maintenance to be effective. When you send direct mail pieces to the wrong person or location it results in spending marketing dollars that have zero chance of a return.  

We have helped several clients scrub their lists over the years and were shocked to find contacts on a direct mail list that have not been at the company we were mailing to for several years! The scary part here is that nearly every marketing list we have looked at contained at least a handful of such contacts indicating that the list is outdated or neglected.  

While not the focus of this post, direct marketing effectiveness must start with a quality list. If you have not verified the contacts and their addresses in your direct mail marketing database, STOP, get that part of the house in order, then come back and finish reading this post.  

The Volume of Marketing Mail is WAY Down  

In 2020 the USPS saw a decline in first-class mail of 2.3 billion pieces. This is a considerable number but pales compared to the drop in marketing mail, which was down 11.5 billion pieces representing a decline of 15.2%. This overall reduction in volume opens the door for marketers to stand out and get noticed via print marketing more today than any other time in recent history. It is much harder to get lost in the pile of mail when you are the only one in the pile.  

Our company owners noted just a few months ago that they were hardly getting any mail at the office. Since most of our staff is still working from home, the mail that they were receiving was making it to their desks because the layers of filtering that were in place in the past were no longer there.  

However, as noted above, make sure you know where your contacts are working – home, office, or both.  

A Home Office Is Still an Office  

While the above statement is true, it is also likely that a contact’s home office address is not listed on their company’s website. This simple fact represents the largest hurdle to overcome when trying to target these contacts with print marketing. However, although getting the contact’s home address is not easy, it is also not impossible, and doing so can give you a serious advantage over the competition. Please take a look at what we do internally to accomplish this goal.  

Updating Your Direct Mail List When Prospects Are Working from Home  

  • Opt-in – If you’re providing great content, your contacts will want to continue to receive it. Send them an email and ask for the best address to send the content. If you are providing periodical content (like a branded magazine), add a signup form to your website so new contacts can add themselves to the list.  
  • Ask – For clients you are currently working with, ask as part of your routine communication the best address to send mail.   
  • Don’t rule out digital – While we discussed how to continue to leverage print marketing when your contacts are not going into the office, it’s ok to shift contacts that are 100% remote and do not want to receive mail at their home to a digital-only communication strategy. This is also the best strategy in cases where you’re not certain one way or the other.   
  • Set them at ease – We realize that some contacts may be reluctant to provide their personal information knowing that it will be used for marketing purposes. To get ahead of this, we include a video on our landing pages that explains what the contact can expect to happen once they share their contact info with us.  

In summary – print marketing will continue to be relevant in 2021, and it even has the potential to be more effective than it has been in the past. Now more than ever, there’s something special about getting a tangible, valuable, and personal piece in the mail. How will you use print marketing in 2021?

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