There is a theory
that says Direct Mail is going away.
And its demise will
Why? Because we have
created a generation - maybe 2 - that does not read. Because the Web and
e-mail have replaced conventional direct mail as a communication tool.
Because it costs too
much. Direct Mail takes too long to develop and deliver to the prospect
and customer. Because it is more difficult to get the right list to mail
Well, all these negative
points have a point. And NONE of them are going to kill direct mail. Even
collectively these supposed truisms will not make direct mail go away.
At least not in the lifetime of anyone reading this message. Probably
not in your grand children's lifetime, either.
Change? Yes. Go away?
Still, we need to
be alert to what the marketplace IS saying to those of us using direct
mail. To raise funds, to generate traffic for our store, shop, restaurant,
office or trade show, to create leads for a sales staff to follow-up,
to develop a mail-order sale.
Here is a Baker's
Dozen Collection - 13 - ideas about Direct Mail
Envelopes. To make and keep your direct mail working to the max.
1. Clear Corporate
For reasons that somewhat
amaze me, there are those who say direct mail with NO identification on
the envelope is best.
Yes, there is certainly
a "tease" about a message that does not clearly tell you who
it is from. That point I'll give.
And then ask:
"Would you run
a newspaper or magazine ad without your name? Would you go on the radio
or television with a commercial without your name? Would you print a brochure
or piece of sales literature without your name?"
Since the answer is
always "No, of course not", then I ask why you send a piece
of direct mail without your name on the envelope? What are you hiding?
What are you afraid of? Are you ashamed? Are you "tricking"
your audience to get them inside your envelope?
Before your direct
mail is opened the envelope is the most important element of your package.
After it is open it is most likely the least important part of your direct
spend time getting your envelope right. Think about getting it open. And
include your corporate identity, somewhere, some how.
2. Size, Color, Shape
& Paper do matter!
The most conventional
USA envelope size is #10. In much of the rest of the world it is slightly
larger - called A-4.
We all know what that
size is - we've seen literally millions of them in our lifetime.
Yet, both smaller
and larger many times can greatly affect response. One company I know
uses #9 size - slightly smaller - for about 85% of their direct mail.
Another uses #11 - slightly larger. A third has found a jumbo 10 X 13
size works best for them.
Whatever size you
use - every so often test other sizes to see if it does affect your results.
Color can make a major
difference in response. Recently I read a report that the ONLY thing the
mailer changed was color of the mailing envelope. Every time a package
"wore out", they changed the envelope color ... and response
picked up again.
Just as size matters,
so does shape. If you have a product or service that allows it, go "odd"
on the shape. A round tri-angle shape envelope is not in your mail box
every day. It will get immediate attention.
Paper quality, water
mark or not, recycled or not, does matter. How much depends on who you
are, and your audience.
Test all these elements
... size, color, shape, paper.
3. Teaser Copy ...
"Yes" or "No"?
Decades ago direct
mail writers learned by enhancing the outside of the envelope you increased
response to the message inside. Your teaser copy got attention and pulllllled
the reader inside to take action.
Clearly 70% to 80%
of the mail I receive has teaser copy. This must say something ... teaser
Still, there are those
who say a simple, personalized, plain envelope is enough of a tease to
get your reader to look at your message. And "yes", that can
Frequently, when you
are addressing your customers, teaser copy may not be needed. They see
your logo, they know you, they'll open your mail.
Yet, I like something
as a "tease". A beginning on the outside gives your reader a
reason to go inside - now.
Photography & "other" Graphics
Our world is graphic.
And color. Action. Movement.
Your audience expects
graphics. So, give them what they expect. And begin on your envelope.
Photography is more
believable - even today with computer images - than illustrations. Although
on an envelope I've not found it makes much difference. Photos must be
high quality to convey your message - an illustration does not need to
be as exact.
A chart or graph can
be effective on your envelope, too.
I don't think it matters
much what you do - I think it matters a whole lot you do something.
5. Using the Front
Fact; 3 of 4 people
who touch your envelope will turn it over before opening.
Since this is true,
use the back of your envelope! If for no other reason than you will be
different than the rest. As something less than 2% of the mail I receive
has done anything with the back of the envelope.
What should be on
the back? More of what is on the front! An extension of your teaser copy.
A testimonial. A graphic illustrating your product message, an important
point, a specific feature. Almost anything in that empty space.
Remember; Nobody reads
the white space.
6. Window or Closed-Face
... which is best?
There is no right
or wrong choice.
Yes, a closed-face
envelope feels more personal, maybe more important. For financial offers,
messages to customers, for high-end products, closed is probably better.
Yet, I've found when
doing lead generation programs it makes absolutely no difference - closed
or window - to the results.
Using a window is
a cost saving - you address on the letter or response device and it serves
as the mailing address, too. A window may also be best when your
other choice is a mailing label. A label on a response card showing through
a window is not nearly as "ugly" as a label on the outgoing
7. Windows for Your
Windows for your address
are one thing - see #6.
are something else. On the front - on the back of your mailing envelope.
Your message in words
and pictures showing through a window gains attention. Your reader begins
to learn your story before they dive inside.
Bold copy or a headline
from your letter, a selected picture or graph from the brochure, a selection
from your response card or order form showing through a window will get
your audience into your package with the first glance. And since you have
only 3 or 4 seconds to STOP your reader - a window can become an effective
tool for you.
8. Try Something
Print your envelope
upside down. Or front to back, with the flap on the front rather than
Skip paper and use
plastic. Try a continuous form. i.e., be different.
Do something out of
the ordinary for your business - for your industry. Instead of running
with the pack - break out and go a different path.
If your colors are
usually conservative ... blues, blacks, grays, whites ... go "hot";
reds, oranges, yellows. If your size is normally regular, try something
large or small. Whatever your typeface - experiment with another (although,
ALWAYS use serif type for body copy, to ensure understanding and
When you're a charity
you need to look poor - yet, you do not need to look like everyone else.
When you're a premier service or premium product you need to look rich.
Again, not like your competition.
Begin with your envelope.
9. What about a "Lumpy"
open a box, a tube, a bubble pack, a "lumpy" package. So, no
matter your product, no matter your service, try something "different"
... use a 3-D package. Mail something "lumpy".
Of course your sales
margins must be great enough to swallow the additional cost associated
with a 3-D mailing. Packaging and delivery charges will be higher. And
then there's the advertising specialty or product sample or "thing"
you've enclosed. The attention getter.
Yet, when you're looking
for a big hit, a major presence, a way to "kick" the door open,
when you're introducing a new product or service, when you're trying to
get attention - "lumpy" works. Try it.
10. Lead with Your
very Best Offer
The second most important
part of every direct mail package is the offer. Second only to the audience,
Since this is a fact,
lead with your very best offer. If your best offer does not work
- nothing less will be close.
There is every reason
you should begin your direct mail offer on the outside of your envelope;
competition for your readers attention. If your message is as compelling
as it must be to get the action you need, start early. Start on the envelope.
Maybe it is teaser
copy that begins to explain what your reader will earn, gain, save, make
... or how they will feel, react, look. Maybe it is a picture of the premium.
Maybe it is graph or chart that demonstrates the results and begins to
"prove" your point.
Whatever it is, your
offer is the reason the majority of your marketplace will "talk"
to you. Start your message on the envelope.
11. Start with Benefits
... use Facts and Figures
People do not buy
red buttons (features) ... they buy what happens when you push
red buttons (benefits).
Frequently the buyer
has little to no idea how a product works, technically. Something as simple
as a remote control for television is a wonder to me. You can talk about
light and what it does when I push the volume button or channel changer
- I still have no idea how it knows which button I pushed.
Yet I darn well know
if it works or not! Talk benefits to your reader.
A good way to talk
benefits is with numbers ... facts and figures. Real, "live"
details to prove your point. Frequently a case history will provide the
action. Or a testimonial will present your story. Sometimes statistics
from a third party support your message.
As long as they are
believable and presented in an interesting way, people like numbers. Use
facts to support your benefit statements.
12. People Buy from
Companies do not
buy from companies.
People do buy
So, on the outside
of your envelope "show" people. People using, benefitting and
enjoying your product. People in "action, doing something.
Pictures or illustrations,
printed on the envelope or showing through a window - whatever works for
you - get people involved.
13. Same or Different
in a Series?
Most often direct
mail is used in a series. With 3-4-5-6-7-10-12 and more in a series. Sent
over time to the same audience.
The longest continuous
series I've sent was 17. Although mail-order houses, catalogue firms,
many financial organizations, associations and "clubs" send
far more than that to their audiences.
Maybe your audience
is customers. Maybe it is prospects. Maybe it is both. When you're planning
your direct mail, think ahead about the envelope. Should every envelope
use the same base ... color, size, shape, type, windows? Or should each
There is no right
or wrong answer to this question. In the "old days" most often
the series was more alike than unalike. There was a flavor to the mail.
A feel. A look. Frequently tied to the corporate colors, logo, style.
Today that is not
always the case. Each piece of mail, although it carries the same message,
has a different look to it. The audience is the same, the offer is the
same, the message is the same. The look is different.
You decide. Test and
decide which works best for you.
Well, that's it. The
Bakers Dozen Collection - 13 Platinum Ideas for
Direct Mail Envelopes. "Steal" the thoughts that interest
you and give them a try.