Direct Mail Strategy: Open Sesame
The Sticking Point
So what exactly is this sticking point? And why would any savvy direct marketer intentionally make it difficult for its customers to get inside a mailing?
Most likely, it’s a wafer seal. These are the white, clear or translucent stickers used to meet USPS tabbing regulations to qualify for automation rates and avoid non-automation surcharges.
This may be an eye-opener. Did you know if you don’t tab certain types of mailings, USPS Mail Processing may do it without asking or informing you? (For more information, visit http://pe.usps.gov and search for Quick Service Guide 201b.)
Don’t get me wrong; I support the good intentions of the USPS. It doesn’t want to rip up your mail piece during automated processing. But as a direct marketer responsible for generating response, you need to make the decisions that control the openability of your mailings—not the USPS, a lettershop or mailing service. This isn’t just a tabbing decision. It starts with details such as format and paper choices.
While lowering postal costs through automation is an important consideration, what do you gain if you decrease openability and lower response rates? To avoid this trap:
• Make no assumptions. Do you know if your company currently applies wafer-seal tabbing or if the USPS has been applying tabs for you? Find out, and don’t assume it was a conscious marketing decision driven by maximizing response versus cutting postage costs. If the USPS has been doing the tabbing for you, review why and plan accordingly for the future. I’ve noticed USPS tabs aren’t always the easiest to open and may hide copy after they’re applied.
• Know your options. If you decide to use wafer seals, consider your choices: white versus clear versus translucent seals. Wafer seals also are available in colors. Your direct mail designers may want to incorporate colorful wafer seals into the mail-piece design to increase visibility and openability. Your copywriter may want to include teaser copy with them, so make wafer seals or gluing part of your creative strategy.