Marketing Costs Are Rising—But That Doesn’t Mean You Have to Cut Back

It’s about to get more expensive to connect with your target audience through the mailbox.

It’s not surprising, really. Inflation is pushing up the cost of paper, postage and the transportation required to deliver your messages. Unfortunately, all in all, everything costs more.

For many, these are uncharted waters. How can you navigate them and what should you do to adapt to a world where it costs more to do business? Here are five recommendations.

Stay the course 

Now is not the time to stop connecting with your target audience. People are under a lot of stress and need help right now. Advertisers can be part of the solution with guidance, deals and opportunities to deliver on basic needs and self-care. Brands that prioritize engaging with consumers will stay top of mind and be rewarded with long-term loyalty. 

Measure your return 

You’re likely already doing this—sort of. But now that every dollar counts more than ever, an objective assessment of the return on ad spend you are (or are not) getting for each campaign and tactic is critical. 

Your audience constantly changes behaviors and develops new media consumption patterns. Smart money says to test and learn what’s working to profitably drive sales. That will include evaluating new channels like social media platforms and connected TV (CTV), and homing in on the most effective media mix with tried-and-true tactics like shared direct mail packages and display advertising.

This isn’t about making a choice between using direct mail or using digital marketing. Instead, as Christine Moorman recently said in the Harvard Business Review, “When used together, traditional and digital marketing can reach more audiences, build and keep trust, and motivate buying from consumers who otherwise might tune out marketing messages.” 

Refine your offers

Historically, consumers are more likely to seek value during difficult economic times. That’s proving to be true in our current environment as people prioritize relevant offers. 

They want coupons and deals to help them stretch their spending as far as possible. Otherwise, they may have no choice but to stay at home and not spend at all

Tough economic realities also mean people value brands that deliver sincere, empathetic and relatable messages. Just as you are trying to make the most of the present circumstances, consumers want guidance on how to survive and thrive in these times.

Be creative and flexible

As important as it is to maintain your voice and stay top of mind with your audience, the current realities may require some adjustments. You hardly need to be reminded of supply chains issues and the fact that it costs more just to advertise. Overcoming those difficulties will require creativity and flexibility. 

That may mean redirecting budget toward media that is readily available or cost-efficient, or looking for a more reliable partner. Now might be the time to consider new formats, tactics and offers to account for logistical and financial headwinds. For instance, due to cost and availability, the printing and mailing of a monthly catalog might temporarily be shifted to a direct mail insert pointing recipients to an online experience. 

Lean in on reliable partnerships

In the best of times, investing in mutually beneficial partnerships is smart—it becomes vital in difficult times. The best partners are those with whom you can openly share challenges and work together toward the best solutions. 

Addressing the rising cost of direct mail as a marketing tactic means investing in partnerships that offer the following:

  • The data and insights needed to find and target your ideal audience
  • Production flexibility for various formats and timelines, and access to paper given the current shortages
  • Print and digital media products that work together to engage your audience 
  • A consistent record of delivering returns on spending over the long term—especially in recessionary and inflationary times 

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