It’s a strange time. Shops are closed. Grocery store shelves are empty. Hand sanitizer is impossible to find. Printed warnings and social distancing reminders are everywhere. And in the midst of it all, a majority of American workers are trapped in their houses, waiting to see if they’ll have a job on the other side of this global pandemic. The entire country is collectively holding our breath and hoping to see an end to the stay-at-home orders and rising infection rates.
With so much fear permeating the national consciousness, print is absolutely vital right now. That might seem like a strange statement in the incredibly strange times in which we find ourselves, but hear me out. The action of looking at and reading print materials creates a memorable, genuine experience that sticks with the viewer for far longer than online ads. Print breaks out of the digital space and acts as a physical connection point that feels both trustworthy and authentic.
What could we all possibly need more than in-person experiences? So many of our personal moments – chats with coworkers, drinks with friends, events with family – have been cancelled, postponed, or moved into online spaces. Our physical contact is limited to the people we live with and the occasional trip to the grocery store. But even those feel strained when you’re attempting to avoid catching or passing along a virus.
The one way we can still enjoy a tactile, guilt-free experience is through the mail. Delivery services and online shopping have seen significant increases in the last month as more people rely on the mail to get everything from groceries to clothing. Adobe’s Digital Economy Index says ecommerce is up 25% thanks in large parts to a more than 100% increase in online grocery sales. We are more aware than ever of our mailboxes. They are our last link to the things we both want and need, acting as our portal to a time when we could still walk out our front doors and buy things from stores without fearing for our safety – or the safety of our loved ones.
Into this steps print: that old standby that refuses to yield to the cheaper and seemingly easier world of digital marketing. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, print remained one of the most effective ways to reach audiences, build trust, and gather leads. And it’s the safest way for key industries to get important information to the people who need it most. Television, radio, and social media are all flooded with anecdotes and information about Covid-19, but not all of it is accurate or coming from trustworthy sources. For the news weary, it’s hard to know who to trust outside of traditional avenues like the CDC and WHO. Print, however, is a trusted source that key industries should take advantage of to spread awareness. Here are a few ways print can help you stay connected:
- Local Governments & Media: Use direct mail to update residents on new programs or restrictions. You could also send information on upcoming elections, SNAP, Medicare, and Medicaid to keep residents informed.
- Public Health: Send health and safety information directly to homes and businesses. Create mailers that give clear instructions on how to stay safe and provide memorable checklists that can be saved for future use.
- Healthcare: Provide hard copies of CDC recommendations for Covid-19 treatment and prevention. Ensure patients know how to access medical and insurance information in case of an emergency.
- Financial Institutions: Take advantage of print to inform customers of any changes to procedures or hours and to announce any cost-cutting programs you are introducing for those facing temporary unemployment.
- Legal: Keep clients up to date on changes to their case, inform them of any time-sensitive requirements, and supply copies of court documents.
- Food Industry: Announce new hours, release take-out menus, and let customers know how to reach you.
Now is the best time to make use of print’s unique properties. Because physical materials create a more memorable experience, print is an ideal way to connect with isolated customers and remind them that there will be an end to this crisis. At some point, the restaurants, stores, schools, and bars will reopen. At some point, we will be able to stand in a crowd without worrying quite as much about viruses. And at some point, we’ll be able to physically exist in the same space as our friends and family without anxiously wondering if we’re passing something deadly along.