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3 Direct Mail Variants of the Traditional Envelope

January 30, 2013 By Paul Bobnak
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But let's face it, the immediate visual appeal of this mailers also limits its applicability to most organizations. No worries: two other formats have also popped up in the mailstream in recent years that should have wider appeal.

One is a poster outer, a thicker, coated stock paper usually folded into thirds, and the ends spot-glued or wafer-sealed shut. It mails with dimensions of, say, 6˝ x 11˝, but measures 6˝ x 17˝ when fully opened. Greenpeace and Amnesty International, for example, have used this format to mail appeals that could have been dispatched in standardsized envelopes. After all, the enclosed materials (letter, reply form, etc.) were nothing out of the ordinary. But the additional advantage is the inside of the outer. Like a calendar or bumper sticker, when displayed, the single picture or sign is a terrific, visible way to advocate for a cause.

Another envelope variation, called the PlyPak by one manufacturer, has been dubbed the "brochurelope" because it cleverly uses all of its interior real estate to take the place of brochures and buck slips in the direct mail package. Measuring a little larger than a standard #10, this format employs a thicker stock paper with 4-color bleeds right to the edge. Its panels are spot-glued; pull them apart from each other, and they open up like petals on a flower. Sitting atop the middle panel is the letter and reply envelope, as well as other components. It's a compelling package that, in the hands of the right designer, copywriter, and project manager, can wow a large variety of audiences.

Yet another nice play on the envelope is seen from Vocus, which markets its PR software in an invitational-style self-mailer that folds open, and then the reply card hinges open to the side and makes it very easy to respond for the B-to-B prospect.

Also, you'll note how well personalized the effort is, as well as the inviting premium (a Barnes & Noble gift card).

The bottom line with each of these formats is that they are different enough from the same old envelope that they get themselves opened. So, job No. 1 is done. After that, it's up to the other components of the package to keep the prospect interested, and then, to respond.

Paul Bobnak is the director of the Who's Mailing What! Archive, owned and operated by Direct Marketing IQ. Reach him at And if you'd like to read more from the Direct Marketing IQ report, download "Design & Formats for Boosting Direct Mail Response."



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