The Power of Lumpy Mail
For years we’ve endured hearing about junk mail. Then snail mail. Now, I’d like to talk to you about lumpy mail.
Unlike the first two, the term lumpy mail isn’t meant to be judgmental or derogatory. Simply descriptive.
And, no, I didn’t coin the phrase; I’m borrowing it from a creative colleague, Dave Nichols of Denver’s Heinrich Marketing.
My definition of lumpy mail is any envelope with unexpected bulk to it. The envelope can be evenly thick or with a bulge at one end. The key is that when you hold it in your hand, the lumpiness causes you to wonder what’s inside.
The power of lumpy mail comes from the intrigue it inspires and the hurdles it helps overcome—getting your mail piece opened and getting it opened first. These are not minor obstacles, since rarely will your piece get the undivided attention of its recipient because it’s the only one in the mailbox.
Have a Good Reason
I confess, I wasn’t always a proponent of lumpy mail. I thought it was too gimmicky, too expensive and too often used by general-advertising types who didn’t understand direct creative and didn’t want to learn how to write and design envelopes that invited retention and readership.
Why has my position changed?
In part, it’s because of dramatically increased competition in the mailbox. Direct mail packages have to work extra hard to stand out. Lumpiness can help.
I’m also finally seeing lumpy mail that’s strategically sound and effectively executed. Gimmick has been replaced by good reason.
An example is a piece I’ve received repeatedly (so it must be working). It’s a 6˝ x 9˝ envelope used by the Vietnam Veterans of America. Instead of a fundraising appeal, the mailing holds an oversized, Pepto-pink plastic bag for donations that’s folded to create a squishy bulkiness inside the envelope.