Mailbag Review: Getting the Envelope Opened
According to direct mail guru Herschell Gordon Lewis, "the only purpose of the carrier envelope, other than keeping its contents from spilling out onto the street, is to get itself opened." True enough, but how to accomplish such a feat has always provoked a lot of disagreement and, therefore, different approaches.
This was the case in January. Take the photo lab outer, an old standby for nonprofits, perhaps because there are many people who remember when pictures weren't delivered digitally. "Do not bend. Photos enclosed" reads the front of the orange-and-white 6" x 10" OE for Help Hospitalized Veterans (Archive code #604-171771-1001, see thumbnail below). Inside, four snapshots demonstrate to the donor how patients benefit from a contribution to the charity.
Cleveland Clinic (Archive code #101-699954-1001, see thumbnail below) relies on an indirect teaser, the promise of a secret, on the front of its #10 envelope. Beginning with a bold headline, "AN ANATOMY QUIZ — JUST FOR MEN," the teaser ramps up the fear factor: "You hate to think about it. You don't want to talk about it. What is 'it'?" The four-page letter reveals the answer — "prostate problems" — and offers a report as a solution.
The non-emotional copy on the front of the #10 for AmeriCares (Archive code #605-174932-1001, see thumbnail below) sets itself apart from its competition: "No expensive research. No bureaucracies to fight. No llamas to buy. We already have treatments and cures ... we just need help delivering them!" The campaign's four-page letter inside continues the theme: That the only obstacles the organization faces are logistical.
At the other side of the spectrum are blind outers that need some other feature to get themselves opened. For Save the Children (Archive code #613-172763-1001), it's an index card that appears through the address window. Once opened, it turns out that the "Donor Record" card is a reminder to past contributors of their previous gift amounts, and the continuing need for more money.