Terms of Engagement
Engaging. Compelling. Arresting. Even disturbing.
These are words used to describe the control-beating packages created by direct mail writers and designers who are worth their weight in first class stamps.
What do these direct mail pros do so successfully to engage scanners and involve readers?
Here are some tricks of trade I’ve learned from direct mail maestro Phil Brown, senior vice president of marketing for RR Donnelley Response Marketing Services. Fancy title aside, Phil is actually a creative strategist who sees a gazillion mail pieces each year and knows from experience what works and what doesn’t. His proven tips and tools include:
Size. Oversized and odd-sized mail pieces work because they stand out in the stack. True, they may cost more to produce and mail. However, the extra cost can turn out to be your best investment for increasing response. So, think twice before mailing another #10 or 6″ x 9″ envelope or standard size postcard that stacks neatly with all the others in your customer’s mailbox. CPM is one thing, ROI is another.
Customization. Thanks to variable data imaging, you don’t need a huge budget to create mailings with individualized relevancy. It just takes data and the ability to use it. In addition to name, address and transactional data, you can now vary copy paragraph by paragraph and customize with four-color images that vary from piece to piece in the same print run. Customization works.
Stickiness. Pressure sensitive stickers, labels, repositionable notes, even magnets are intriguing involvement devices. Once your reader is peeling off a sticker, 3″ x 3″ sticky note or magnet with your URL or phone number on it, she’s on the road to responding.
Cards. Check the wallets of the next five people who walk into your office. I can almost guarantee you’ll find at least one or two membership, discount or gift cards inside each one. And some of these were delivered in direct mail pieces. Members, donors, customers and prospects all love cards—so use them. They can be plastic, peel-off, embossed or plain Jane paper. These are attention-grabbers that establish value.
Kits. Another way to establish value is to give your mail piece a name and call it a kit. I’ve seen envelopes announcing the contents as a New Donor Kit, New Member Kit and New Subscriber Kit. I’ve helped create Getting Started Kits, Savings Kits and a How to Select the Right Fume Hood Kit. While the perception of value skyrockets when you add the word kit, the cost doesn’t have to.