3 Ways to Upgrade the Self-Mailer
The self-mailer, including the postcard, has been around for decades, and it's often used in a straightforward manner to present a simple offer to a prospect, usually unpersonalized.
A lot has changed. Today, while self-mailers haven't necessarily grown in popularity—they've made up a little more than 50 percent of Target Marketing Group's Who's Mailing What! Archive mailstream each of the last four years, for example—they're used in new and effective ways. Here are a few:
1. Personalize the offer.
"For postcards, we always try to personalize a call-to-action message on the front, and with VDP, we do it in color so it does not look like something just added on," relates Bart Foreman, president and owner of Group 3 Marketing, a relationship marketing company based in Wayzata, Minn. "We always personalize the offer, and in some cases when it applies, we bring the client's name into the personalization mix when there is a relationship established."
But Foreman also reminds that his company does everything possible not to let on to prospects that it knows a lot about them.
2. Convert a traditional package into a self-mailer.
Steve Penn, CEO and executive creative director of Penn Garritano Direct Response Marketing in Minneapolis, gives an example involving a sports team. "Our main B-to-B package last year was a pretty big, classic converted direct mail package consisting of a 10˝ x 13˝ outer envelope, a multipanel brochure with a DVD attached and an 8-½″x 14″laser-personalized, landscape-designed letter.
"This year we wanted to increase our mail quantity but work within essentially the same budget. So we created a pretty clever self-mailer in the shape of a home plate and gave it an aqueous coating so it felt rubbery, like a real home plate. Using this new format, we were able to drop our price and increase our quantity. It's actually a fairly large, interruptive piece, and I've got my fingers crossed that it will perform well. Actually, we didn't sacrifice a lot of real estate, and I believe we'll get the job done using this new self-mailer format," he concludes.
3. Tell a story.
Stories don't have to be confined to the direct mail letter. Ryan Cote, director of marketing for direct mail company The Ballantine Corp. in Wayne, N.J., prefers the self-mailers "that fold open and tell a story and then get you to respond with a tear-off reply card of some sort."