Five Choices to Make for Paper in Direct Mail
The production manager (or perhaps creative director) of a direct mail package usually chooses the paper. Historically, it’s never been an easy decision. It hinges on weighing (with postal rates, I mean that literally) quality against cost, including the selection of paper stock/weight, grade, coated or uncoated, and so on.
Recently, that decision just got harder, with the now viable option of using more environment-friendly paper (groundwood/high-yield/nonvirgin-offset sheets, more post-consumer recycled content and environmentally certified) in all components of a mail piece.
Unless you’ve already done so, here are five choices you may consider adopting.
1. Go High-End (but not Necessarily High-Cost) with the Outer
If you’re going to spend money—or experiment with unusual paper (which may or may not increase cost)—choose the outer envelope. “I’ve had a lot of good luck using higher-end, or unusual paper with the carrier envelope. It’s been pretty clear that some kind of heavier or textured stock seems to improve response,” says Jeff Brooks, creative director at Merkle, a database marketing agency based in Lanham, Md.
To create an outer envelope with more texture, Brooks gives the example of taking normal paper and running it through a machine that scores it, putting parallel or diagonal grooves across it. “That adds very little cost but makes the envelope definitely different than other things in the mailbox,” claims Brooks, who says it appears that textured paper slows the prospect down.
“The caveat, of course, is: Is it enough of an improvement to justify the cost?” asks Brooks, who works in Merkle’s agency division that serves nonprofits. His agency hasn’t been able to justify the increased expenditure for acquisition mailings, where getting cost down is paramount to success. “You may get a great response but kill yourself because you sent 3 cents too much per package,” he explains.