Paul Bobnak

Paul Bobnak

Paul Bobnak is the research/content director for Direct Marketing IQ, the research arm of NAPCO Media’s Target Marketing Group. Since 1998, he’s also been the archivist at Who’s Mailing What!, which houses the most complete, searchable and fully online library of direct mail and email in the world. He has read and analyzed thousands of direct mail packages (offers, copy, designs, incentives and formats) in more than 200 industry categories, including nonprofits, retail, insurance, telecom, B-to-B, financial services and publishing. He writes for the e-newsletters Who’s Mailing What! Report and eM+C Weekly, and has been a judge in NonProfit PRO’s Gold Awards for Fundraising Excellence since 2006. Reach him at or on Twitter at @PaulBobnak.

How to Use Icons in Direct Mail

In any communication, clarity is crucial. This is especially true of direct mail, traditionally relying on copy and design. Like never before, marketers are deploying icons and pictograms in their direct mail packages.

4 Direct Mail Ideas to Try in 2015

So, maybe your direct mail isn't working as well as you'd like. You might be tempted to take it in an entirely new direction, or even stop it altogether. However, both courses could prove costly to your bottom line, when all you need to do is try one thing that is different. Makes It Easy to Call

At first glance, this long-time mailing from seems no different from the majority of B-to-B acquisition efforts out there. It's just a blank #10 outer (save for company logo and return address), with a few components inside.

Opposites Attract Positives in Direct Mail

If you were a fan of the TV series "Seinfeld" back in the 90's, you'll remember an episode called "The Opposite," where perennial loser George Costanza turns his life around by doing the opposite of every instinct in his body.

Progressive’s Strong Branding Makes a Personal Connection

Love her or hate her, you have to admit that "Flo" — the pitch woman for Progressive Insurance — is almost impossible to ignore. She's been the star of the company's TV and radio ads since 2008. And, since 2011, a direct mail package heavily featuring her smiling face has been driving traffic to the company's website and telephone representatives. This piece is one of the latest Grand Control mailings tracked exclusively by Who's Mailing What!

3 Trends in Direct Mail Design

Given the continuing uncertainty over the future of how the USPS conducts its operations, it may seem a little counterintuitive to see bright days ahead for direct mail. But the development of some recent creative trends, as evidenced by mail cataloged in Who’s Mailing What! (the most extensive database of direct mail and email in the world), shows this is a medium that is alive and quite capable of learning new tricks.

Building Trust In Local Direct Mail

Direct mail is full of missed opportunities, like a blank envelope that doesn't do its second, but equally vital, job: to get itself opened. Here we have two local home services businesses that use very different self-mailers to share valuable information, and thereby build trust with their prospective customers.

3 Mailers Making Waves With Content Marketing

Let's consider what some people regard as just another buzz term: "content marketing." Despite all the hype, the concept really wasn't invented yesterday. Some mailers have been doing it for years. Let's look at three examples of mailers successfully using relevant content marketing to stand out in the mailbox.

4 Direct Mail Tips for Reaching the Senior Segment

One of the exploding niches that I've seen in their mail over last few years is senior real estate. From continuing care facilities to independent living communities, older Americans have more housing options than ever. These choices presented vary widely. But how they are described and shown provide some tips on how to get prospects interested in taking that big first step toward moving: a tour of the facility.

Testing Equals Success for Catholic Relief Services

When you're trying to "rev up your response," as copywriter Pat Friesen once put it, testing various bells and whistles can make a big difference. That's one of the keys to the success and evolution of the "EMERGENCY APPEAL" package for Catholic Relief Services. It's been in the mail for over seven years, one of over 1,500 Grand Control mailings (in the mail for three years or more) cataloged by Who's Mailing What! Because CRS is the official international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community, the guardian angel medallion pictured on the front of the #10 carrier (see the first image in the mediaplayer) seems to perfectly represent the secular and sacred nature of the group's mission.

3 Ways to Improve Your Direct Mail Order Form

Pity the poor order form. If there's one element of a typical direct mail package that doesn't get enough attention in examining what works, that has to be it. A good design is crucial to a mailing's success. It has to make sense to the recipient, and support the intent of the letter or other components: to generate a positive response (i.e., an order or a donation).

Cartoons in the Mail: How to Make Them a Success

A few months ago, while researching how humor is used in direct mail, I found some examples of an art form that was deserving of its own consideration: the cartoon. It's a tactic that pops up only rarely in the mail collected by Who's Mailing What!, the world's most complete library of direct mail and email. But the instances where it has been part of a campaign are proof it can engage prospects, that is, once marketers get past their reluctance to run against the conventional wisdom that humor doesn't work.

Draw Customers With the Testimonial

Testimonials have long been powerful selling tools in direct mail, and it's easy to see why. Getting your satisfied customers to sell for you makes your job easier because there's another voice (or several) that can overcome the skepticism of a prospect. Three recent mailings received by Who's Mailing What!, the world's most complete library of direct mail and email, are examples of a new twist on this old fundamental: a direct tie-in between the mail piece and a website.

Refreshing a Nonprofit Classic

To see the work of great painters, you usually need to go to a museum or art gallery. To read the work of great copywriters — and learn from it — you need only to look through the mail that arrives at your doorstep every day. One masterpiece that has been mailed continuously for about 20 years is the member acquisition effort for Amnesty International.

Can Direct Mail Be Funny? If So, Should It Be!?

A bowling ball smashing a printer — that's the first thing I thought of a couple of months ago when Mazarine Treyz, proprietor of Wild Woman Fundraising, asked me if direct mail could be funny. The trouble is, I couldn't think of any other examples besides a postcard for AMF Bowling Centers.