3 Tips to Deal With the Sticky Business of Direct Mail

Even if you don’t write, design or send a lot of direct mail, you need to read this. It’s about why you should pay attention to stickiness when creating and mailing formats the USPS requires to be tabbed, wafer sealed spot or (ugh) continuously glued.

According to the USPS Quick Service Guide 201b on page 15 (opens as a PDF), “Unenveloped letter-size mailpieces prepared for machinable or automation mailings must be sealed or glued completely along all four sides (or unsealed edges) or cured (tabbed) to prevent an open edge from jamming high-speed processing equipment. Standards for tabbing folded self-mailers, booklets, or postcards are based on basis weight of paper stock used and the location of the folded or bound edge. As an alternative to tabs or wafer seals, the open edge of the length of single-sheet self-mailers and postcards, and specific booklet designs, may be continuously glued or spot glued.”

Whew. This means to qualify for postal automation discounts, direct marketers have to do something that’s counter-intuitive for us and almost guaranteed to depress response. We have to purposely make it difficult to open our mailpieces. (But we can feel good about doing it because we’re saving money.)

Seriously? Yes, seriously.

In 2007, I devoted my November Target Marketing column to the topic of stickiness. Seven years later, not much has changed. I continue to receive mailpieces tabbed, sealed and fugitive glued so securely that even a highly motivated customer like me can’t open them without tearing them in the process.

Tip No. 1: If your mailpiece doesn’t get opened, it doesn’t get read and doesn’t generate response. So we need to figure out ways to encourage readers to slit tabs and pry open glued edges.
It happened again yesterday. My new Murad skin care catalog arrived at the same time I received a Murad self-mailer promising me in bold type, “$25 Gift Inside.” I felt a card inside, so I was happy to open it. After much frustration, I finally got it ripped opened and there was the $25 card. Then I ripped through three wafer seals to start shopping in the catalog. Fortunately for Murad and me, I managed to do all this with minimal damage to the card and catalog. Here’s why that detail is important:

Pat Friesen is a direct response copywriter, content developer, copy coach and creative strategist. She is also the author of "The Cross-Channel Copywriting Handbook," published by Direct Marketing IQ. Reach her at (913) 341-1211.

Related Content