4 Ways to Push the Envelope
So you’re walking down the street, window shopping, but not looking for anything in particular.
One store is bland and uninviting. Another appears completely irrelevant to your personal lifestyle. Then you’re stopped in your tracks outside another place. Wowed. A colorful sign catches your eye. There are balloons too, and one of them has your name on it! A handwritten chalkboard out front invites YOUR family to come play a fun game inside. So you all do. Eagerly.
That store is OPEN for business. And if it was a direct mail envelope, it’d probably get opened too.
Remember that when creating your next campaign: Outer envelopes are your storefront. If no one enters, even the best salespeople inside — your well-written letter and brochure — can’t do their job.
So how do you push the proverbial envelope creatively?
1. Get Noticed
Color. Unusual shapes. Stand out from the crowd, and overcrowded mailbox, with a little something extra. This postcard targeting Kansas college-age students isn’t just bright and sunny (literally COVERED in sunflowers). Any resident would also recognize it as the actual die-cut shape of their home state. Which connects instantly with the offer to attend nearby University of Missouri at in-state rates.
2. Get Personal
With today’s variable data and imaging, one-to-one marketing should be your No. 1 tool. Far from simply inserting YOUR NAME HERE, you now have the ability to tailor every aspect of a mailing. How about offering a personal Web address, or PURL, to make ordering easier? Or creating artwork with their name on it that they just might keep awhile?
Good example: Thule Cargo Carriers sent out mailings to car owners. But not just any drivers; those who ski. Their data research not only identified recipients’ hobbies, but also what KIND of vehicles they had — which were then depicted on personalized outer-envelopes fully-loaded for a trip to the slopes. Smart.
3. Get Sticky
No, don’t try to catch more customers with flypaper. Involve them. With stickers, decals, stamps, Post-it notes or removable appointment cards. It might seem silly, but people like to peel, punch out, lick and stick, and have a little fun sometimes. Yet a lot of times, they work remarkably well for a wide range of marketers, from publishing and fundraising to high-end financial services.
4. Get Real. Or Not
Yep, that sounds like a contradiction. Many effective mailings get opened because they appear substantial. The real deal. They might have an actual membership card included, so your prospect just HAS to look because there’s something valuable inside. Or it’s printed on laminated card stock, not something flimsy. That must be important too, right?
The “Not-So-Real” approach that still gets real results? Faux Mailings, designed to look like official, time-sensitive documents — perhaps from a government office or express mail service. For B-to-B mailings, they can work particularly well for getting past office gatekeepers.
In closing, be open. There’s nothing wrong with a plain white professional-looking envelope. Until it gets ignored. Open yourself to all the options available, and you’re more likely to open wallets too.
Want to learn more and see more examples? Download the DMDays @ Your Desk 2011 slide deck that copywriter Pat Friesen and I presented together, chock-full of visual examples to get your creative juices running!
Patrick Fultz is the President/CCO of DM Creative Group, a creative marketing firm producing work across all media. He’s an art-side creative, marketing strategist, designer and lover of all things type. His credentials include a degree from Parsons School of Design with 15 years of teaching at his alma mater, over 40 industry creative awards, and he previously served as President of the John Caples International Awards. Always an innovator, Fultz was credited with creating the first 4-color variable data direct mail piece ever produced. He continues to look for innovative ways to tap the powerful synergy of direct mail, the web, digital and social media.