Kern says self-mailers are also good for educational marketers, auto dealers, traffic generation activities and catalog marketers. Matt Cote, an account manager at Ballantine, a New Jersey-based direct mail company, mentions trade-show marketing and travel/resort-related industries that frequently employ self-mailers, along with some publication testing as well.
Accordingly, as seen in the Target Marketing Group's Who's Mailing What! Archive, the self-mailer is growing within the publications field, with 18.4 percent of publishing efforts using self-mailers so far this year after only 13.4 percent did so in 2007.
2. Why is self-mailer usage going up in some markets?
"Postage rates. It's the cost. It is, I think, that simple to a large degree. In consumer mail, the trend has usually been to mail smaller but smarter because of the volume. It can be a tremendous cost to large mailers," explains Penn, who says it remains to be seen whether increasingly smaller formats can perform as well in B-to-B situations. "A fair amount of real estate is often required to tell complicated stories ... especially when it comes to selling big-ticket purchases like machinery or technology."
Ryan Cote, director of marketing at Ballantine, concurs. "I look at self-mailers as a simplified mail piece. They're easier to produce and generally cost less (depending on many variables of course) ... but they still allow for a variety of response vehicles: toll-free number, Web site address, PURL, tear-off reply card. We even have some publication clients testing a double postcard self-mailer with a BRE glue-tacked inside," he reveals.
For Kern, he's witnessed a trend to use self-mailers where variable data printing comes into play. "Thus for mailers who have audiences under 500,000 and can afford a 15-cent to 25-cent cost per package given their profit margin, they are using self-mailers," he illustrates.
3. In what markets should the self-mailer format be kept to a minimum?
Anywhere letter packages remain the norm, self-mailers have a tough road to haul in terms of both response rate and, certainly, longevity. "I far prefer letter packages to self-mailers, and so do most prospects," says Nancy Harhut, senior vice president/managing director of relationship marketing at Hill Holliday, a full-service marketing company based in Boston.