Updated: Dec 1, 2020
As seen in APeeling in Summer 2020
Since the early days of the US response to COVID-19, our kitchen table has been home to a pile of newspapers in various states of order. There’s the stack of the week’s papers, the news sometimes too fresh and real to face. There’s the folded assortment of mini crosswords from Page 3 that often serve as a welcome alternative to polite conversation at yet another meal at home. There’s the treasure trove of articles that struck a chord awaiting clipping and glueing into my now beloved Quarantine Journal.
Today’s crossword, actually published 6 weeks ago yet still lingering in the pile, gives two clues on the power of print to reach and connect with all those customers safe at their own kitchen tables. Eight across - “things stuffed in takeout bags” and one down - “answer to the riddle ‘what stays in one corner but travels around the world?’”.
Now is the time to use print to the advantage of your business to solve the riddle of how to stay connected with customers. With the help of a local printer, you can produce printed pieces like my beloved newspapers that make it from the mailbox, past the recycling bin, to the pile on the kitchen table where they’ll be seen, enjoyed and discussed again and again.
Brené Brown taught me long ago that human beings are wired for connection and belonging. Right now we are missing out on being the places where we feel that sense of belonging. Print and direct mail give businesses the opportunity to safely connect with customers and give them an experience of that feeling of belonging they have when we are together in person.
The printed menu stuffed in the takeout bag can remind us of all the nights off from cooking we’ve enjoyed over the years at our neighborhood Thai restaurant. The stamp doesn’t have to travel all around the world, just around the town, to introduce us to a new service we are not even aware of in the pandemic.
Here are just a few ideas of ways to use print and the post to create connection with your customers. The main point is to have fun with it and imagine your ideal customer checking the mail, taking her undistracted walk to the mailbox, sorting through what has arrived, and deciding what will make it past the recycling bin to the kitchen table where it has the opportunity to remind her and the rest of her family over and over that you are missing them too and available in new and unique ways during this time.
Provide useful information - give them a recipe, a seasonal checklist, a calendar of full moons, be creative.
Make it interactive and better yet, funny - even our TikTok obsessed teen put down the phone and picked up a pencil to do a “Mad-Libs” in the paper recently. How about a mini crossword, word search, “I Spy” game, coloring page, riddles, jokes or some trivia the person checking the mail will want to share with the family? This does not just apply to households with children - everybody needs to have a laugh and some fun right now.
Tell a story - Remember that whole we are wired for connection and belonging thing? Guess what? It makes us love stories. Tell the story of your business, one of your favorite customers, somebody in your neighborhood, one of your awesome employees. Use photography carefully to add the sense of being present - creating virtual eye contact from the printed piece.
When all else fails, harness the power of cute - animals are winning at marketing right now. Our golden retriever gets more likes than any of us when he shows up on social. The same is true for print.
While the pandemic is challenging us in so many ways, it can also give us the opportunity to connect with our core customers and bolster the relationship and brand loyalty that every business wants. Using print and the power of the post to connect with your customers in the pandemic is a win-win for business. Let them know you’re thinking of them, and they’ll be thinking of you too.
Alicia Wilhelmy Experienced small business owner with a demonstrated history of working in the printing industry. Discover her printing business