13 Platinum Ways to
Add "Flash" & "Splash" to Your Direct
Direct mail is not going away. At a recent industry gathering the United States Postmaster General said
"first class mail is dead". His point being E-mail is going
to replace a considerable amount of first class mail.
That is not the case with direct mail. It is very
much alive. And not about to go away anytime soon.
Still, direct mail as a marketing tool is at a critical state in its'
being. Getting direct mail to "work" is a true challenge. Literally
millions of pieces hit business and home mail boxes daily. For example,
the US Postal Service delivers nearly 600 million pieces of mail every
business day. And although the USPS is the largest organization of its'
kind in the world, their experience is being mirrored elsewhere around
For example, international mail is getting a big boost from Royal Mail
out of the United Kingdom. Ditto Deutsche Post from Germany. Both groups
have set up worldwide organizations to sell their services to business.
Smaller postal systems are active, too. Singapore. Indonesia. New Zealand.
The Nordic Group of Europe ... Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland.
Canada Post Australian Post. And there are others. Someone has to deliver
all the "stuff" ordered online - the posts are doing their fair
share. And more.
Direct mail is here to stay. At least for a while.
So, how do you get your direct mail to produce the max in results for
you? Here is a collection of ideas ... 13 Platinum Ways to Add "Flash"
& "Splash" to Your Direct Mail.
#1). Use fancy "action" stamps inside ...
commemorative mailing stamps outside
"Stamps" have been a main-stay in direct mail for decades.
More like centuries. The first postage stamp was an idea born in the U.K.
The 366+ year old British Post was the first organization to use what
we now take for granted - a "live" postage stamp.
Marketers picked up on the idea, and began using stamps, sheets of stamps,
stickers and similar devices. To draw attention. To gain involvement.
To encourage action. These ideas still work.
Commemorative stamps are more popular than ever. Most likely because
the Posts promote them better than ever. There are special collections
for just about every special event. This fad is international ... I see
advertisements weekly where commemorative are being sold.
Many commemoratives are jumbo in size. Different in shape. Most are full
color. Each fact helps get them noticed. Which is a key factor in getting
your direct mail opened ... it must be "noticed" first. Commemorative
stamps are also memorable ... your audience is more likely to remember
them, and thus you.
And ... you may find the "boring" pre-canceled live" stamp
still has a place in this century. It's certainly better looking than
that horrid imprinted indicia.
Find ways to use stamps in your next direct mail shot.
#2). Use a "different" size
Every country has "standard" sizes for paper to print and envelopes
to carry direct mail. Have to - automation dictates.
Still, at least in the western world, you have many choices. Dozens,
maybe even scores of options. So, why not use something "different"
from the most common? Something not #10 in the States or A-4 in Europe,
Asia and much of the rest of the world?
My "regular" business mailing envelope is a #11. Longer east/west
and wider north/south than the much more standard #10. Yes, it does cost
a tad more. And takes a wee bit more time to order. Benefit; it gets attention,
because it is long and tall.
The #11 size is "different" - that's why I use it. It comes
with or without windows, fits the machinery and because it is bigger holds
more inserts. To me, all good things.
Square is another size that gets attention. From 6" upward, square
is not something that shows up in your mail box every day. So you see
it. And are more likely to notice, touch, look, open, read, respond. Each
a good thing.
Think a different size for your next direct mail.
#3). Use exciting color
The world is color. With shades and screens that run into the multi-millions
of colors. Oh, all that color is beautiful, isn't it?
We talk blue sky. Fire engine red. Kelly green. Pearl white. Death black.
Canary yellow. Royal purple. And on and on. The paint companies have an
amazing array of names for every color variation known to mankind. Ditto
the automobile manufacturers.
Why is this so? Well, I think it's because we humans happen to like color.
Yes, there is something stark and stunning about simple black and white.
A grainy photography of a mountain scene in plain B& W can be powerful.
Still, in business marketing black and white says "cheap".
Not enough money to do it right. The Boy Scout paper drive Saturday morning.
A hand made sign tacked to a post. True or false ... something not of
Opinion; your direct does not need to be 4-color. It must be 2-color.
No option here. And every piece inside your direct mail package, too.
The envelope, letter, all response devices, brochure, testimonial insert,
premium piece, lift letter - anything, everything. Color must be a part
of your planning from the get-go. In my opinion.
Use color in direct mail.
#4). Use windows
A window is something you see through. It allows you to "look in".
From the outside, when you look through a window, you see a lobby, the
reception area, a meeting room, an office, a living room, a kitchen. You
don't see everything ... you do see enough to get a feeling of the place.
Ditto direct mail. A window invites the reader to look in without actually
getting in. The difference is you want your prospect to be so interested
they will elect to "walk" in. Through the envelope.
In direct mail the window might be called "teaser". Because
it shows just enough to "tease" the looker into doing something.
To saying "I need to know more". So they tear into the envelope
to get the full picture. The window "hooks" the reader and pulls
What's in a window ... other than the standard address data? How about
half a sentence, that leaves you hanging. Or an action sticker that says
"Yes". A picture of the premium book or calculator you earn
by responding. Maybe a photo of what you'll earn, or make, or save, or
enjoy when you sign-up for the service. Anything that gets attention,
and "pulls" the reader to the inside.
Or, you can go JUMBO. i.e., make the entire back of your mailing
envelope a window. Almost the opposite of teaser - as it shows all. And
gets undivided attention.
Use windows as a planned part of your direct mail package.
#5). Affix an "official" something
Things that look "official" get attention. It's not that you're
fooling anyone ... you are not. What you are doing is getting attention.
A gold or silver seal, maybe embossed, with a fancy script, gets attention.
And looks good on your envelope. Might even look better when your paper
stock is "kraft" or "government" in appearance. You
can also include something "official" inside your mail package.
On your business response device. Sometimes on the letter.
On the opposite end of the teeter-a-totter is the rubber stamp. A rough,
almost crude, device. It gets attention, too - especially when it's red
in color. It works great on the outside of the envelope. And can be effective
Consider what you can do with your direct mail to get more attention
#6). Use both the front & back of the envelope
The envelope has 2 sides. Use both of them.
Why? Well, because 3 of 4 people who touch your envelope will turn it
over before opening. That's 3 out of every 4! Big time number.
Which means? It means put a window, teaser copy, a graphic - all of the
above! - on the back of your envelope. The back is another opportunity
to sell your prospect into becoming your customer. To begin your story.
To repeat the limited time or number. To introduce your offer.
We always think of the front - I'm suggesting you always think
of the back, too.
#7). Use a Lift Letter
The lift letter is so named because it "lifts" response.
It began life as the "publishers letter". The magazine industry
created the idea of a second letter in direct mail. First, the "regular"
letter, with the full message. And the second letter, from the publisher,
to pull in more response.
Most often the lift letter is short. Rarely more than 2 colors. Usually
a stronger message. Yes, with a P.S. And an urge to action. Signed by
someone of higher rank than signs the first, or regular letter.
In this era of the "nobody reads anymore" myth, it is fact
we do read faster. It could be your lift letter will become your main
selling piece. Just because it is quick and easy.
So, since the lift letter has such power, it should become a part of
every direct mail package. Inside is where you usually find it. With production
capability as it is today, it could be sealed and spot-glued to the outside
of your envelope. Try it - you can expect outstanding results.
#8). Use a mix of photography & illustrations
There was a time long ago when you used only photography. Or only illustrations.
Never together. That concept went a separate path in the '70's of the
last century. We've learned a mix of these different image methods works
Today computers have changed graphics even more. Almost anything you
dream can be created by someone good on the MAC. Or with an "anything-draw"
software package. Of course, just because the software is available does
not guarantee good art supporting good copy. Talent does.
Okay, where will this mix be most interesting? How 'bout on a brochure.
One side is all top notch photography ... the other totally art, with
fine illustrations. Or, on the outside, where the entire envelope is wrapped
in a mix of pictures and drawings, overlapping each other into a montage.
Translated, this means guys and gals experienced in direct response need
to be on your creative team. As they'll know how to take top illustrations,
mix with the best photography, and create a smashingly successful piece
of direct mail for you.
#9). Use action & involvement devices
Scratch & sniff. Stickers you move from "here" to "there".
A plastic card. Paper money. A pop-up.
A pen, key ring, pin, coin, or other advertising speciality. A pull strip.
A string. A lift-tab. A simple perforation. Die-cuts or cut-outs. A rubber
band. A sound card. Maybe "games"; such as a sweeps, a lucky
draw, a puzzle. And scores more "things".
None of these devices will sell your product or service. They are involvement
and attention pieces. Something to get your prospect interested in your
message and offer. Something your audience can touch, hold, "play
with", use, share, put on their desk, in their purse - take home
... talk about.
You have 2-3 only seconds to get attention with direct mail. That's
it to get your prospect to S T O P. To decide to read on - or not.
Think what you can use in your direct mail to keep your reader long enough
for you to tell your story. And then do it.
#10). Include multiple response devices
What's the "rule" about response?
Don't know any measure except the bottom line. Meaning something happened
good. Your offer was accepted, the prospect became a customer. They sent
money. And everyone is happy.
To help make the sale happen include multiple response devices with each
direct mail drop. Yes, a business response card. And a business response
envelope if private information or money is requested. A faxback form
- to make it easy to get a quick reply. An application form. A phone number
to call. A web site to visit for more details - with a response by E-mail
opportunity. Obviously, an order form, if you're mail-order selling.
Offer many response options. The more you offer the more action you can
expect. An industry that has changed as much as any is finance. They have
done a wonderful job at making it easy for you to leave your money with
Today you can bank online, over the phone, by fax, at a location inside
another business, by ATM in a zillion places. And, at a drive-through
window, which, when it isn't staffed offers an ATM. There are still night
drop boxes. Plus, if you insist you can still walk into the bank itself!
WOW! And to think 3 decades ago they were open 10 to 2. And you came
to them. Period.
What's the message? The message is give your audience many ways to respond
to your offer. To do business with you.
#11). Design a 3-D mailing
Size and shape will affect your direct mail. When your package is dimensional
- a box, a lumpy envelope, a long tube - you've got good things going
Dimensional mailings do several things for your direct mail success.
First, they are seen. How many did you get this week? Not many, is my
guess. And you opened every one of them, didn't you?
Guess what ... ditto for your audience. They are just as curious as you.
Send them something 3-D and it will be opened and looked at. At a minimum.
Absolutely guaranteed! Because they too like things that come in big boxes
and puffy bags. Packages that almost "scream" to be played with.
When your product/service lends itself to a package, think about making
it a 3-dimensional.
#12). Use a different format
Format includes size and shape. And production techniques, too.
Such as an envelope that "falls apart" when you open it. It
could be an envelope with the letter printed on the reverse side. Maybe
your mail is delivered in a burlap bag or paper sack. Or your letter is
"handwritten" on legal size yellow tablet paper.
Your direct mail may come as an "invitation". This concept
has worked well to sell National Geographic subscriptions - and get high-tech
B-2-B executives to a demonstration seminar.
Know what is "standard", and think otherwise. Try not to be
predictable. Come at your audience sideways ... give them something they
do not expect. Be "different" than your industry. Be different
today than you were yesterday.
#13). Use personalization inside & out
The thought there's nothing sweeter than your own name has been carried
to the extreme in direct.
That is not the idea. What personalization should mean is the knowledge
you have in your database about your customer or prospect is selected
in a useful way. Used intelligently, to let them know you know who they
are. That you recognize your audience. As individuals. As people.
That is, use the Readers Digest approach with 14 point type for
an older audience. And fund raising appeals. Or, for a theater promotion,
the typeface Broadway Engraved, because it fits the message. Just as Helvetica
Heavy will work for an industrial product introduction.
The frequency / loyalty programs that flowed out of the travel industry
have done a good job of not over doing. Yet, sending meaningful messages
to their members. Often enough to keep state of mind. Not so often so
as to over do it. Each time tailored to that members needs. I know, because
this is a category in which I fit. United Airlines and Hilton Hotels got
me, because they each do a tasteful and thorough job.
That's it ... The Baker's Dozen collection of how you get your direct
mail to produce the max in results for you. 13 Platinum Ways to Add
"Flash" & "Splash" to Your Direct Mail.
Use, enjoy, benefit.