Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

Baker's Dozen INDEX

13 Platinum Ideas for Direct Mail Envelopes

There is a theory that says Direct Mail is going away.

And its demise will be soon.

Why? Because we have created a generation - maybe 2 - that does not read. Because the Web and e-mail have replaced conventional direct mail as a communication tool.

Because it costs too much. Direct Mail takes too long to develop and deliver to the prospect and customer. Because it is more difficult to get the right list to mail to.

Well, all these negative points have a point. And NONE of them are going to kill direct mail. Even collectively these supposed truisms will not make direct mail go away. At least not in the lifetime of anyone reading this message. Probably not in your grand children's lifetime, either.

Change? Yes. Go away? No.

Still, we need to be alert to what the marketplace IS saying to those of us using direct mail. To raise funds, to generate traffic for our store, shop, restaurant, office or trade show, to create leads for a sales staff to follow-up, to develop a mail-order sale.

Here is a Baker's Dozen Collection - 13 - ideas about Direct Mail Envelopes. To make and keep your direct mail working to the max.

1. Clear Corporate Identity

For reasons that somewhat amaze me, there are those who say direct mail with NO identification on the envelope is best.

Yes, there is certainly a "tease" about a message that does not clearly tell you who it is from. That point I'll give.

And then ask:

"Would you run a newspaper or magazine ad without your name? Would you go on the radio or television with a commercial without your name? Would you print a brochure or piece of sales literature without your name?"

Since the answer is always "No, of course not", then I ask why you send a piece of direct mail without your name on the envelope? What are you hiding? What are you afraid of? Are you ashamed? Are you "tricking" your audience to get them inside your envelope?

Before your direct mail is opened the envelope is the most important element of your package. After it is open it is most likely the least important part of your direct mail.

My recommendation; spend time getting your envelope right. Think about getting it open. And include your corporate identity, somewhere, some how.

2. Size, Color, Shape & Paper do matter!

The most conventional USA envelope size is #10. In much of the rest of the world it is slightly larger - called A-4.

We all know what that size is - we've seen literally millions of them in our lifetime.

Yet, both smaller and larger many times can greatly affect response. One company I know uses #9 size - slightly smaller - for about 85% of their direct mail. Another uses #11 - slightly larger. A third has found a jumbo 10 X 13 size works best for them.

Whatever size you use - every so often test other sizes to see if it does affect your results.

Color can make a major difference in response. Recently I read a report that the ONLY thing the mailer changed was color of the mailing envelope. Every time a package "wore out", they changed the envelope color ... and response picked up again.

Test color.

Just as size matters, so does shape. If you have a product or service that allows it, go "odd" on the shape. A round tri-angle shape envelope is not in your mail box every day. It will get immediate attention.

Paper quality, water mark or not, recycled or not, does matter. How much depends on who you are, and your audience.

Test all these elements ... size, color, shape, paper.

3. Teaser Copy ... "Yes" or "No"?

Decades ago direct mail writers learned by enhancing the outside of the envelope you increased response to the message inside. Your teaser copy got attention and pulllllled the reader inside to take action.

Clearly 70% to 80% of the mail I receive has teaser copy. This must say something ... teaser copy works!

Still, there are those who say a simple, personalized, plain envelope is enough of a tease to get your reader to look at your message. And "yes", that can be so.

Frequently, when you are addressing your customers, teaser copy may not be needed. They see your logo, they know you, they'll open your mail.

Yet, I like something as a "tease". A beginning on the outside gives your reader a reason to go inside - now.

4. Illustrations, Photography & "other" Graphics

Our world is graphic. And color. Action. Movement.

Your audience expects graphics. So, give them what they expect. And begin on your envelope.

Photography is more believable - even today with computer images - than illustrations. Although on an envelope I've not found it makes much difference. Photos must be high quality to convey your message - an illustration does not need to be as exact.

A chart or graph can be effective on your envelope, too.

I don't think it matters much what you do - I think it matters a whole lot you do something.

5. Using the Front AND Back

Fact; 3 of 4 people who touch your envelope will turn it over before opening.

Since this is true, use the back of your envelope! If for no other reason than you will be different than the rest. As something less than 2% of the mail I receive has done anything with the back of the envelope.

What should be on the back? More of what is on the front! An extension of your teaser copy. A testimonial. A graphic illustrating your product message, an important point, a specific feature. Almost anything in that empty space.

Remember; Nobody reads the white space.

6. Window or Closed-Face ... which is best?

There is no right or wrong choice.

Yes, a closed-face envelope feels more personal, maybe more important. For financial offers, messages to customers, for high-end products, closed is probably better.

Yet, I've found when doing lead generation programs it makes absolutely no difference - closed or window - to the results.

Using a window is a cost saving - you address on the letter or response device and it serves as the mailing address, too. A window may also be best when your other choice is a mailing label. A label on a response card showing through a window is not nearly as "ugly" as a label on the outgoing mailing envelope.

7. Windows for Your Message

Windows for your address are one thing - see #6.

Windows elsewhere are something else. On the front - on the back of your mailing envelope.

Your message in words and pictures showing through a window gains attention. Your reader begins to learn your story before they dive inside.

Bold copy or a headline from your letter, a selected picture or graph from the brochure, a selection from your response card or order form showing through a window will get your audience into your package with the first glance. And since you have only 3 or 4 seconds to STOP your reader - a window can become an effective tool for you.

8. Try Something "Different"

Print your envelope upside down. Or front to back, with the flap on the front rather than the back.

Skip paper and use plastic. Try a continuous form. i.e., be different.

Do something out of the ordinary for your business - for your industry. Instead of running with the pack - break out and go a different path.

If your colors are usually conservative ... blues, blacks, grays, whites ... go "hot"; reds, oranges, yellows. If your size is normally regular, try something large or small. Whatever your typeface - experiment with another (although, ALWAYS use serif type for body copy, to ensure understanding and readability).

When you're a charity you need to look poor - yet, you do not need to look like everyone else. When you're a premier service or premium product you need to look rich. Again, not like your competition.

Begin with your envelope. Be "different".

9. What about a "Lumpy" Package?

3-Dimension works.

You always open a box, a tube, a bubble pack, a "lumpy" package. So, no matter your product, no matter your service, try something "different" ... use a 3-D package. Mail something "lumpy".

Of course your sales margins must be great enough to swallow the additional cost associated with a 3-D mailing. Packaging and delivery charges will be higher. And then there's the advertising specialty or product sample or "thing" you've enclosed. The attention getter.

Yet, when you're looking for a big hit, a major presence, a way to "kick" the door open, when you're introducing a new product or service, when you're trying to get attention - "lumpy" works. Try it.

10. Lead with Your very Best Offer

The second most important part of every direct mail package is the offer. Second only to the audience, the list.

Since this is a fact, lead with your very best offer. If your best offer does not work - nothing less will be close.

There is every reason you should begin your direct mail offer on the outside of your envelope; competition for your readers attention. If your message is as compelling as it must be to get the action you need, start early. Start on the envelope.

Maybe it is teaser copy that begins to explain what your reader will earn, gain, save, make ... or how they will feel, react, look. Maybe it is a picture of the premium. Maybe it is graph or chart that demonstrates the results and begins to "prove" your point.

Whatever it is, your offer is the reason the majority of your marketplace will "talk" to you. Start your message on the envelope.

11. Start with Benefits ... use Facts and Figures

People do not buy red buttons (features) ... they buy what happens when you push red buttons (benefits).

Frequently the buyer has little to no idea how a product works, technically. Something as simple as a remote control for television is a wonder to me. You can talk about light and what it does when I push the volume button or channel changer - I still have no idea how it knows which button I pushed.

Yet I darn well know if it works or not! Talk benefits to your reader.

A good way to talk benefits is with numbers ... facts and figures. Real, "live" details to prove your point. Frequently a case history will provide the action. Or a testimonial will present your story. Sometimes statistics from a third party support your message.

As long as they are believable and presented in an interesting way, people like numbers. Use facts to support your benefit statements.

12. People Buy from People

Companies do not buy from companies.

People do buy from people.

So, on the outside of your envelope "show" people. People using, benefitting and enjoying your product. People in "action, doing something.

Pictures or illustrations, printed on the envelope or showing through a window - whatever works for you - get people involved.

13. Same or Different in a Series?

Most often direct mail is used in a series. With 3-4-5-6-7-10-12 and more in a series. Sent over time to the same audience.

The longest continuous series I've sent was 17. Although mail-order houses, catalogue firms, many financial organizations, associations and "clubs" send far more than that to their audiences.

Maybe your audience is customers. Maybe it is prospects. Maybe it is both. When you're planning your direct mail, think ahead about the envelope. Should every envelope use the same base ... color, size, shape, type, windows? Or should each be "different"?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. In the "old days" most often the series was more alike than unalike. There was a flavor to the mail. A feel. A look. Frequently tied to the corporate colors, logo, style.

Today that is not always the case. Each piece of mail, although it carries the same message, has a different look to it. The audience is the same, the offer is the same, the message is the same. The look is different.

You decide. Test and decide which works best for you.

Well, that's it. The Bakers Dozen Collection - 13 Platinum Ideas for Direct Mail Envelopes. "Steal" the thoughts that interest you and give them a try.

Baker's Dozen INDEX

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