Direct Mail Strategy: Open Sesame
Is the following scenario familiar? You’re at the mailbox, pulling out mail, screening for what you’ll toss and what you’ll keep. A favorite catalog or a mailing from your daughter’s favorite retail store catches your eye. You set it aside to take a closer look.
Then, the “moment of truth” arrives: You try to open the mail piece. But, alas! You hit a major sticking point—figuratively and literally. In the process of struggling to open the mailing that’s “stuck together,” you rip it. Now, the piece is damaged goods. It’s no longer as eye-catching. Its original intrigue is wearing thin. You also can’t easily read the free gift copy you unknowingly tore. You are frustrated and disappointed. What do you do?
Even more importantly, what do your customers do when confronted with these same circumstances? If you are like me, you trash the mailing. Why?
Not only is it now damaged goods, but you’re also short on time, and you have a stack of other catalogs and mail pieces waiting for your attention. And these offer little or no resistance when it comes to opening them.
The 3:33 Rule
Are you familiar with direct mail’s three minute and 33 second (3:33) rule? It’s important when you talk about openability.
The 3:33 rule suggests you have three seconds or less to stand out in the mail and stay out of the trash, then 30 seconds to engage the reader enough to get opened and make the “short stack” for later reading. After the first 33 seconds—if you actually get the reader inside your mail piece—she spends an additional three minutes or less reading it and deciding whether or not to respond.
This rule applies more to solos and self-mailers than to catalogs, which typically have a longer shelf life, but the same principles apply. If in those all-important first 33 seconds of engagement you create openability problems for your reader, your sales opportunity is much more likely to end up in the trash can.