The Future of Direct Marketing: Tips for the Long-Term

In our last post, we covered tips for the short-term future of direct marketing. Now, we will shift gears and focus on long-term marketing planning.




March 27, 2020

Since the beginning of March, the way in which businesses operate has rapidly changed and the short-term future has proven to be very unstable.

As a result, it can be difficult to imagine the long-term future of direct marketing. Many of us struggle with the sheer number of unknowns: How long will this last? What will the new “normal” look like after all of this? How will we make up for lost time?

When dealing with any uncertain situation, it is important to focus on what is within your control instead of what is beyond it. Of course, that is easier said than done,and it may seem like there is not much that you can control right now.

However, we encourage you to look beyond the immediate future and focus on the long-term future of marketing. What you do right now is critical for setting yourself up for long-term marketing success.

Here, we outline some tips for planning for the long-term future of direct marketing.

  1. Remain in charge of your messaging.

First and foremost, it is important to control the message that you are sending by choosing to respond – or not respond – to the ongoing situation. At this point you have likely already coordinated with your sales and other client-facing teams to ensure that they are keeping the lines of communications with your customers open, providing critical updates.

As the situation progresses, you should have a plan for keeping everyone updated so everyone operates from the same set of information and it can be clearly and consistently articulated to your customers and other external stakeholders. Staying in front of the messaging will help you manage your brand’s reputation during this time.

  1. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

With any luck, our collective efforts to stop the spread will allow everyone to return to business as usual (whatever that means for your business) in a few weeks.

That being said, there is always the chance that it will take longer. As difficult as it may be to think about, considering what might happen if this last 2-3 months or even 6-12 months may limit the number of surprise situations you might face later if you choose not to think about the future now.

The goal of this exercise to put a contingency plan in place that you will hopefully not need, but if you do, your proactive efforts will have you feeling more confident than if you hadn’t prepared for them.  

  1. Keep things moving as much as you can.

In whatever capacity your team is working in, try to get everyone together to evaluate your planned efforts and see where adjustments need to be made.

Think about the types of messages you were planning to send this time of year. Are the messages still appropriate? Do they need to be refined to reflect the situation, or tabled until things return to normal?

If there is any outreach that you are still able to continue with now, focus on adjusting that messaging and getting it out first.

It’s important to continue as many of your current efforts as you can, both to stay connected with your customers and also to stay ahead of your competition that might be pausing or slowing down. When things speed up again, you may find yourself facing more competition than ever as everyone tries to catch up. Maintaining a steady outreach now will go a long way toward staying ahead of the competition in the future.

That being said, there are likely going to be some projects that get tabled no matter what, whether it’s a matter of resources, messaging, or any other timing concerns.    

If that is the case, think about what stage of planning they were in when they were paused. Are they ready to roll, or is there more planning to be done?

In the case where additional planning is needed, some of that planning can continue now to keep the project moving so it is in its final stage when things resume. It maybe difficult to establish a new timeline, but if you remain flexible you can put together a basic outline of the next steps for each paused project so you know exactly where to pick up later.

Once the plan for your existing efforts is squared away, you might shift gears into thinking about future campaigns.

If you were already looking ahead to the future, you might already have started working on them. As with your paused projects, see what work can be done now to keep things moving.

Again, be mindful of the messaging and whether or not it is still appropriate or needs any adjustments.

If you hadn’t had a chance to start thinking about future projects yet, consider using this time to brainstorm ideas and come up with a basic outline of what you want to do next. Again, doing the work now and keeping things moving will put you miles ahead of your competition.

  1. Strive to be flexible.

    While right now is certainly a storm of its own, it is important to recognize that we are in the calm before the next storm.  

    When we reach the point where businesses do start to resume to normal operations, you may find that there is a short-term burst of demand from your customers for your product or service who may have held off on purchasing something until things settled down.

    Think about what needs to be done to handle that demand, and work with other departments to see if there are any ways to be flexible and streamline your efforts when that happens. If you can make it easier for your business to return to “business as usual,” the long-term effects on your business will be more positive.


    The Bottom Line

    This is a difficult and uncertain time for businesses, but it is not too late to hit your goals for this year or beyond. Our hope is that this post (and series) may provide some guidance to help you build a solid foundation for the long-term success of your business.

    Don’t Miss Our New Series: “The Future of Direct Marketing”

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