With the sudden and drastic change in how we do business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies were faced with an urgent and complex challenge: reimagining marketing to new and potential clients when face-to-face interactions aren’t possible.

For many organizations, trade shows and conferences are their primary revenue drivers. They provide a great way to get in front of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of prospects all at once, and some organizations aren’t sure how to handle the transition now that so many events are paused or cancelled.

Of course, this is all in addition to the daily grind of managing prospect and customer communications, which may include both digital and physical marketing programs (or at least should include both). One of the biggest challenges marketers face is a lack of integration between the two. The left hand knows what the right hand is doing, but can’t activate the data to boost the effectiveness of both.

Activating both is where PFL thrives. PFL is a marketing technology company providing software solutions that help brands use digital intent signals from marketing automation or CRM tools to inform the content and timing of tactile marketing, improving ROI of their campaigns and putting their brand in the hands of their audience.

New Challenges Beg Important Questions

When the going gets tough, PFL focuses on reinvention and offers a new opportunity to engage with potential customers. PFL leverages tactile marketing to increase traction with existing customers, as well as customizes new ways to reach a bigger audience for their clients. They have changed the landscape of direct mail automation, making it easier and more effective for organizations to get in front of strategic contacts using direct mail touch points.

To many, direct mail can seem like a traditional or even outdated marketing tactic. However, direct mail is an opportunity to stand out in the midst of an overwhelming amount of digital communications―regardless of the global pandemic.

“With people being at home, and even before COVID-19, we’re getting bombarded with a ton of digital communications every day. The idea of layering direct mail into campaigns is really appealing as a way to engage in a personal way that really stands out,” said Eva Jackson, Director of Demand Gen.

“We work with clients to learn about what programs they’re working on from a digital side that are successful, then help them identify touch points where direct mail might enhance the conversion rate,” said Eva. “We want to help our clients send something to facilitate a brand experience with their audience that will drive results.”

Whatever you might be thinking when it comes to direct mail, it’s hard to see ordinary mailed packages as in the same category as the creative and effective direct mail programs that PFL creates for its clients. “For example, one of our direct mail campaigns is literally a collection of memes in a box,” said Eva. “It is designed to make the recipient smile and reinforce the positive brand image they have. It’s important because marketers know they need to find a way to interact with their customers beyond just the transactional touchpoints. I think the really smart marketing departments are wanting to find new ways to create these multichannel experiences even with everyone working from home.”

Pivoting During COVID

In the midst of a bull market, COVID-19 happened, completely halting trade shows and in-person events that many businesses rely on to generate leads and revenue. With so many conferences and in-person events being postponed or cancelled, PFL had to reevaluate how to best serve their clients during this time. They had to get even more creative.

“Many of our clients lost potential revenue due to shows getting canceled,” said Eva. “Through a research report we completed last year, survey respondents rate events as their number one ROI channel. However, integrated direct mail was the second highest ROI channel. Because their number one channel isn’t happening right now, we were able to help them figure out how to leverage their number two channel successfully so they can close the gap.”

One way PFL has already started helping clients leverage direct mail creatively is the concept of a booth in a box. “For those who relied heavily on events, they had swag that wasn’t going to be utilized. With the booth in a box, they can utilize the branded swag and materials that they planned on taking to the conference, but it’s sent directly to the prospect. It’s a way to repurpose those in-person engagements and still engage with those they would have seen at the conference.”

An example of PFL’s “Booth in a Box” kit used to help clients connect with customers who aren’t able to attend events due to the pandemic.

With everything from a little cocktail kit for a virtual happy hour, or materials that would have been shared during registration, these booths in a box have a variety of applications. PFL has also created some innovative new options for graduation in a box and virtual training in a box. “There are a lot of different use cases for creating a really attention grabbing virtual experience that can provide value,” said Eva. They also have a useful webinar on how to run a direct mail campaign with preferred shipping addresses to help their clients gather the right addresses to reach people where they are actually working.

“A lot of our customers already had swag ready to go for the follow-up from those shows, and one of our biggest strengths is having the manufacturing side of our business in house,” said Ryan Lugar, Content Marketing Manager. “We provided value by being able to quickly pivot with clients and provide ideas that wouldn’t be possible without that close knowledge and integration with our own manufacturing operations.”

Nurturing Roots in Indianapolis and Growing the Industry

While PFL got its start in Montana, the company looked to Indianapolis to continue to reinforce the brand as a reputable tech company within the community. PFL has leveraged the culture of two different environments to its advantage: manufacturing and production expertise in Montana with the tech-savvy marketing headquarters located on the circle of downtown Indianapolis.

“Obviously, our roots are really deep in Montana, and that’s a big part of our identity,” said Eva. “That history and experience grounds our company culture and we push each other to do more and be more, so the differences between our two locations is a great asset. We want to continue to nurture our new roots in Indianapolis and have a strong presence here.”

“One of the biggest benefits to working with PFL is that we have all the print mailing fulfillment background and it’s paired nicely with the tech side,” said Ryan. “That’s really where we stand out in the market.”

PFL will continue to focus on creating a space for continued multi-media marketing, which they believe will prevent marketing slumps. “We helped to create this marketing specialty because of the overwhelming volume of digital communications that were happening. It was too much,” said Ryan. “By being able to combine print with digital in the right way, it’s boosting ROI, helping our clients increase conversion rates, and delivering remarkable brand experiences. People value direct mail more now, especially since they don’t have the face-to-face human connection option as much anymore.”

Learn more about funnel strategies for tactile marketing on PFL.com.