Direct Mail: Forget DM Rules
The No. 1 rule for creating a winning envelope: There are no rules. But to create a winning direct mail package, you definitely need a winning envelope. Make no mistake, the envelope is not everything. Ultimately, a winner in the mail has the same criteria as a winner in the Direct Marketing Association’s ECHO awards: It’s the total package that wins. Strategy, copy and art combine to bring in the response. But the envelope obviously is key. If it doesn’t get opened, all the carefully crafted messaging inside makes a death spiral into the trash bin.
So what envelopes are winning in the mail? And what path do you need to follow to emulate their success?
What are the rules we typically hear, fibs we’ve been told and maybe believed? If you’ve seen even some of the articles I’ve read over the last 25 years, you’ve learned a lot of rules— lots of contradicting rules, such as:
“Blank envelopes always win” versus “Always put your logo on the outer.”
“Boring and official” versus “Be distinctive with an immediate up-front advantage.”
“Closed-face envelopes pull.”
“Urgent gets your mailing opened.”
“Live stamps work.”
The list goes on and on.
Having created countless winners (and losers) over the same stretch of years, I’ve seen proof that every one of these rules is completely true. And evidence that all are 100 percent false.
Forget the rules—creating a winning envelope is a process.
Direct marketers, like everyone else, are looking for the silver bullet. We’d love to discover the secret to getting rich quick or losing weight while enjoying all our favorite foods in unlimited quantities.
But the truth is, the fountain of youth, the Northwest Passage and “the 8 sure-fire rules to winning envelopes” simply do not exist.
The good news is that there’s a proven way to create winners. It’s a process that starts with what may be the only immutable tactic in direct marketing—appealing to the reader’s self-interest.