Near the end of the recent DirectMarketingIQ webinar "Direct Mail Formats — What's Working Now!" with Patrick Fultz, owner of DM Creative Group, and Nancy Harhut, Wilde Agency's chief creative officer, questions came pouring in from the large audience. (To view the $79 webinar, available on-demand now, click here.)
While many questions were specific in nature, some fell into the camp of smaller budgets and nonprofits. Here is how Fultz, award-winning designer and current president of the John Caples International Award, tackled them:
What are some ideas that are more cost effective for clients that have small direct mail budgets?
Fultz: Many of the packages I showed were very cost effective, using standard sizes like 6" x 9" envelopes and 8-1/2" x 11" or 8-1/2" x 14" letters. Also, #10 packages can work as well, with attention spent on their teaser lines and graphics.
I'd try the following items simply to make my package stand out in the mail as a starting point:
- Odd size envelope: Still staying within postal regulations, make the OE taller, longer or just plain different from a #10 or 6" x 9"
- Color, texture and/or weight: Make the envelope stand out using an overall unique color. Can you make it day-glow? Again, you need to work with the concept. Use texture by printing spot varnishes to create extreme textural difference. Emboss a pattern in an OE. Or, even just print a texture. This can be done when converting an OE. Paper weight is easy: Make it very light or very heavy or choose a stock made from brown kraft paper.
- Odd windows sizes and/or shapes: Again, this is a relatively inexpensive method of making the OE different.
If you only can choose one format, I'd go with the tried and true 6" x 9" or 6" x 11". But remember, it's about the concept — not the format only. They must work together.
There is no set rule or magic bullet format. I've seen 6" x 9"s work in one place and fail in another. I've seen the same components in a #10 work in the Fall and get beat in the Spring in a 6" x 9". Testing is the only thing that is tried and true.
Are there general principles when applying this to non-profit fundraising?
Fultz: Relevance is important. If you are mailing to previous donors, you need to make sure you treat them as if you know who they are. Also, given the fact the address labels are still a strong pulling element for nonprofits, there still is a little 'What's in it for me?'
We recently developed a folder style piece that contained a letter and order form with an integrated label that sits inside a mini-personalized folder. This creates a kit type of package that we took the concept to the maximum calling it the "Gift Giving Kit."
In terms of creative ideas I've seen for the non-profit world, in most cases I've been disappointed. Not so much from a production standpoint as I understand the pieces can't look expensive, but more from the conceptual approaches. It may be time for the non-profits to swing for the fences a little with concepts that are more unique.