Direct Mail Strategy: On the Radar
"What's new in direct mail?" is one of the most frequently asked questions I get from colleagues, clients and readers of this column. These people aren't asking about the latest USPS postal regulations; instead, like you, they want to know about new practices, formats, offer incentives and other elements they should consider testing.
With the new year just around the corner, this month's column is devoted to products and business ideas that have recently come to my attention. Some are brand-new; others have been around but recently jumped back on the radar. Check them out, then test those that fit with your business goals.
Clear carrier envelopes may not be new; however, the latest generation is both clear and green. You now can mail carrier envelopes made from a sustainable agricultural product as well as biodegradable polypropylene. Shapes and sizes include catalog envelopes, DVD sleeves, badge holders and jewel pak CD/DVD sleeves.
While there are probably other eco-friendly fabrications available, Univenture's EarthFirst PLA (polylactic acid) film is made from annually renewable corn. Crystal clear, this film doesn't look any different from petrochemical-based clear film, and in many cases, it prints better because ink dries faster on it. Because PLA is compostable, EarthFirst PLA film is accepted by most public compost facilities and normally composts within weeks, according to Univenture.
If you already use clear carriers, consider testing corny carriers and informing your customers about why you're using them. If you don't already use clear carriers, this may be one more reason to test the idea.
Envelopes That Lead Double Lives
While we're on the topic of eco-friendly carrier envelopes, here's an update on the latest generation of reusable carrier envelopes that double as reply envelopes.
But first, a brief history lesson. Tension Envelope's Walt Hiersteiner created and patented what probably was the first two-way returnable envelope almost 30 years ago. The newest two-in-one envelope with patents pending was created in 2002 by Ann DeLaVergne, founder, president and CEO of ecoEnvelopes. Like many entrepreneurs, she created her first prototypes at her kitchen table using her sewing machine. Since then, her company has worked with the USPS to adapt that original kitchen table design to make it compatible with USPS mail handling equipment.