Creating Clutter Busting Dimensional Direct Mail.

Posted August 24, 2010 by Julia Moran Martz
Categories: Branding, Direct Marketing

Tags: , ,

I know it sometimes seems that you have to do something REALLY BIG to break through the mailroom clutter. But honestly, size doesn’t matter. You don’t need to build a Taj Mahal for your prospects. Even those C-level folks.

What you MUST do is make sure your mailing’s message supports your goals and is relevant to your target market. And above all, match the quality of your 3D object to your brand.

For example, if your key marketing message is about protecting your clients, don’t mail something like the cheapest umbrella that’s going to break after the third or fifth use. That will reflect poorly on your key brand message. Likewise, don’t overshoot your brand. Sending out gold-plated key fobs could be perceived as bribery if your brand is all about affordable office supplies, for instance.

The best way to start is with your creative brief: define your goals and targets, and THEN your message will naturally follow. Assuming you’ve written your creative brief, here are some examples of 3D mailing types to get your creative juices flowing.

3D Campaign Types.

I categorize 3D mailings into three types:

1. The fun gadget:

Stromberg Allen direct mail series: Even though Stromberg Allen gained approved vendor status with several new clients, they still needed to snag the attention of the clients’ internal buyers. As a printer of K-12 learning tools, they have the capability to produce very complex dimensional products using many components, and they wanted to demonstrate this expertise. We created a campaign of four boxed items that displayed their ability to produce fun, yet educational tools by marrying a gadget with a marketing message and booklets inside the boxes. The sales team then received instructions to send these to their specific targets one week apart until they snagged a meeting. Without sales’ cooperation and follow through, an expensive campaign like this would be wasted. Be sure to train your entire team before implementation of any campaign.

Benefit Downside
Fun to receive; if done right, can be memorable AND get your message across. May end up with kid at home if it’s TOO fun, which defeats your purpose of having it stick around as a reminder on the recipient’s desk.

2. The helpful tool:

Ripon Printers printing tools series: Ripon Printers’ capabilities include practically anything you’d want in a printer: digital/offset/web, cold and heatset, fulfillment, custom ink jetting, list hygiene and maintenance, catalog/education/direct marketing expertise, and web-storefront capabilities. To spread the word of their wide range of expertise, MondoVox concepted and designed a series of handy Tips Books (one per service area) and a video that would serve multiple marketing tasks. Not only do sales representatives distribute these tools to their existing customers, MondoVox also created a multipart direct mail campaign targeting new prospects. We created a handy book box for the tips books and a disc mailer for the video DVD. Ripon uses these 3D mailings along with a personalized introductory brochure to complete a three-part campaign for all new prospect lists.

This is a great example of how you can be 3D even if using relatively flat objects like books or DVDs. No need to throw in a pen just to get a bump on your envelope. It’s also a good example of a series within a series; the tips books can be mailed individually with the first one going out with the book box and the others arriving one week apart until the recipient fills the box.

Benefit Downside
If it’s truly a great tool, it will have a high sticky factor. In fact, don’t be surprised if prospects take your tools from job to job if they find them particularly valuable. Can come off as matter-of-fact and serious rather than providing any sort of clever gotcha moment. BUT if concepted carefully, a tool series can accomplish both.

3. Custom product samples:

Gourmetceuticals Taste Test Kit: Being new to the market, Gourmetceuticals needed to quickly convince food ingredient buyers that their nutritional ingredients did not impart negative flavors in final products but did offer all the benefits of nutritional supplements. We created a Taste-Test Kit using a granola product developed by a partnership between Nuts Are Good and Gourmetceuticals. The granola packs were designed to resemble grocery-ready food items while containing technical information directed to the buyer. Accompanying the samples was a cover letter and instructional booklet that walked the buyer through tasting the product, ultimately convincing them that Gourmetceuticals’ ingredients provide added nutrition while not imparting negative flavors or aftertastes. Careful pre-qualification of a limited number of targets allowed us to mail the kits via a parcel delivery service.

These kits were so successful that we expanded to include a print ad + landing page kit request to attract additional buyers.

Benefit Downside
By carefully controlling the message with a custom product sample, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your product AND get the meeting. Seemingly the most boring of all options, BUT could actually be quite effective if matched with a catchy message and the right target market. Also more labor intensive than just ordering a box of pens, but the potential payoff is much greater.

Don’t Be a Joke-in-a-Box.

While everyone wants to do the fun, gadget-type of campaign, that’s not always the most appropriate or most effective 3D object to incorporate. Consider carefully your brand reputation and key marketing messages to determine what type is best for you.

By Julia Moran Martz

Upcoming Newsletter Topics.

Posted August 24, 2010 by Julia Moran Martz
Categories: Marketing

Just a few of the topics we’re working on for future newsletters:

  • What’s the big deal about QR Codes?
  • Evaluating illustration vs. photography.
  • Choosing the right personalization strategy.

Envelopes—Your “Get Opened” Tool.

Posted May 26, 2010 by Larry Bauer
Categories: Direct Marketing

Tags: ,

Marketers have a lot of direct mail formats available—postcards, self-mailers, dimensional mailers and, of course, the good old envelope. Many factors from budget and objective to the nature of the offer and audience enter into format decisions. So let’s begin our discussion with when you should recommend an envelope package.

Four Reasons to Choose Envelope Packages.

The first and most obvious is that envelopes provide an ideal solution when the offer requires more space for multiple components such as a cover letter, brochure, buckslip and reply envelope. After all, something has to keep the components from falling on the ground.

Second, envelopes better accommodate the fact that people buy in different ways. The letter-brochure combo provides alternate ways of presenting information—one more verbal and fact oriented, the other more visual.

Third, real people send things to real people in envelopes. Recipients feel more catered to when they receive an envelope package—especially a personalized one—and that’s essential in today’s marketplace.

Fourth, envelopes tend to look less promotional than postcards and self-mailers, so they have the ability to lift a mailing above the marketing fray with a classier presentation.

Then There’s the Offer Thing.

Some types of offers just beg for an envelope. After analyzing lots of tests and studies, most direct marketing authorities consider envelopes more effective for these types of offers:

  • Financial products—loans, credit cards, securities, insurance
  • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Continuity/membership clubs
  • Charitable solicitations
  • Professional services
  • High-ticket consumer goods
  • Technology products
  • Telephone services

But perhaps the most important and often overlooked reason to use an envelope is that it can contain a letter. A real, honest-to-goodness personal letter. Oh, I know we don’t write so many of them anymore, but that’s not because they don’t work.

If fact, letters are incredibly powerful either as a standalone component or as part of a package. Many direct mail authorities still believe that a letter is the most important single element in a direct mail package. And many tests show that letters can hold their own or even exceed the performance of postcards and self-mailers.

Consider recommending a letter when your client’s message needs to:

  • Come from one person by name.
  • Be addressed to an individual by name.
  • Requires added credibility or confidentiality.

And the more personalized you can help your client make the content, the higher the letter’s impact will be.

Sealing It Up.

Well, I suppose I digressed a bit from envelopes. But perhaps it highlights the most important point of all. Nothing really stands alone in marketing. We talk about integrated media while sometimes forgetting the integrated relationship of components within a single element like a direct mail package.

Now about that envelope….

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

Bauer Associates helps printers of all sizes develop and execute effective marketing strategies. For more information, email Print Strategist Larry Bauer

You can connect with Larry Bauer on LinkedIn. Or follow him on Twitter. Or join Print Strategist on LinkedIn.

Do’s and Don’ts of Envelopes.

Posted May 26, 2010 by Larry Bauer
Categories: Direct Marketing

Tags: ,

Creating effective envelopes doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money. To the contrary, it means understanding your audience and offer and then creating an appropriate fit. Here are recommendations to ensure that recipients welcome your client’s next envelope package.

Do

  • Put the company name on the envelope if you’re confident it will cause a positive reaction from recipients—otherwise leave it off.
  • Ensure the envelope is at least ¼” larger than the inserts.
  • Match images, graphics and copy appropriately to the audience.
  • Use postage stamps if possible, especially for small mailings or anything that requires a personal touch.
  • Use metered mail as a second choice, but avoid the dreaded indicia— studies show that Fortune 500 companies route 30% of Standard Mail to the wastebasket immediately.
  • Personalize—that can mean anything from variable data messaging to using a legible script font or actual handwriting—tell this to non-profits twice, if necessary.
  • Include teaser copy that is compelling, intriguing and invites curiosity.
  • Test envelope color, size, style and paper—differences might attract people who pitched a mailing before.
  • Consider an enclosure that creates an envelope lump—people can’t resist them, but be aware that it will add to postage costs.
  • Play the angles—an angled teaser line or even a slightly angled stamp can make an envelope get noticed.

Don’t

  • Use form letter or bill formats—they typically either get tossed or put with the bills.
  • Use a window envelope—possible exceptions are if it’s the only way to get killer personalization inside or if it’s a full view that shows a compelling graphic.
  • Put the offer on the envelope—especially to a cold list.
  • Underestimate the power of envelope tone—official, fun, etc.
  • Address your b-to-b mail to generic titles if at all possible—nothing screams mass mail louder than generics.
  • Skimp on any element of address accuracy—Cathy with a “C” might tune the mailing out in a heartbeat if she sees her her name spelled with a “K.”
  • Dupe recipients into thinking the envelope contains something it doesn’t—tone needs to fit the actual contents.
  • Use statements like “Open Immediately”—see above.
  • Forget to recommend ordering 5-10% more envelopes than they need—clients can forget they’ll likely suffer some damage in setup.
  • Time the mailing to arrive on Monday, the heaviest mail day of the week—aim for Tuesday, the lightest day, or Wednesday, the second lightest.

By Larry Bauer

Missed Getting Your Copy of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts? Not to worry. We printed plenty of copies, and we’d be happy to connect you with one. The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the eight most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our PrintStrategist newsletter to date including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply email Larry Bauer your postal mailing information and we’ll send you a complementary copy.

The Art of the Envelope Tease.

Posted May 26, 2010 by Julia Moran Martz
Categories: Direct Marketing

Tags: ,

One of the biggest mistakes designers can make is ignoring the envelope that contains their client’s direct mail components. Envelopes are the key tool that determines whether your direct mail gets opened or gets ditched.

Design Tips for Creating Intriguing Envelopes for Your Direct Mail Campaign.

  • Vary the size: think outside of the standard #10 envelope. Look at oversized envelopes or even undersized. Anything to break out of the normal in-box clutter.
  • Use color: consider envelopes that reflect your brand’s primary color or consider anything that isn’t white, yet fits your offer. White envelopes tend to blend in with everything else in the recipient’s mailbox. Consult your designer or printer for interesting textures and colors.
  • Print a teaser message on the envelope: the operative word here is ‘teaser.’ There’s no rule that says you need to give it all away up front. Leave a little something to reward them for opening. Keep the message enticing.
  • Consider using a translucent or clear envelope: if your budget allows, there are a myriad of clear and translucent options. Choices include vellum, glassine and polybag-type envelopes. But be cautious when sourcing vellum as not all are crack resistant. Consult with your printer for vellum options that minimize cracking. And also don’t assume that polybag-type envelopes are only available in crystal clear. There are many exciting color choices that ignite the imagination. ClearBags has a great online resource to get your creative juices flowing, but do work you’re your printer for larger quantities.
  • Consider the design of the interior components up front. Don’t’ just toss them in a clear envelope without thought to what will show through. Again, you may need to redesign the outward facing messages on the interior components if you’re using a clear envelope.
  • You may also consider window envelopes as an alternative to solid paper or clear poly envelopes. There are several sizes including booklet envelopes with nearly full-view windows that deliver a similar effect.

Production Considerations.

  • If going with a translucent or clear envelope, you’ll have to reconsider how you handle addressing the envelope. Depending on the color and translucency of the material, you may have to use an address label. Or you could design the backside of the inserts to contain the address info.
  • Remember what I said about vellum. While insanely cool, you must work with a good printer to spec a stock that is crack resistant.
  • Some envelopes don’t come with a sticky seal. Some glassine envelopes, for instance, may require you to use a label to close the flap. This is another opportunity for messaging.
  • While an envelope mailer will cost more to produce than a postcard, a well-designed envelope can outperform a postcard if the message is right for a closed-envelope package. The challenges are the budget, of course, and ensuring the envelope is the right vehicle for your direct mail’s desired outcome.
  • Spec converted envelopes to save money. The only drawback is that you won’t be able to print across folds or bleed off a cut edge. But a good designer can certainly work within these restrictions to save you money.

Ignore at your own peril the envelope’s ability to tease, entice, intrigue and seduce the recipient. But also remember what mom advised in your youth: don’t give it all away up front and do leave something to the imagination. Envelopes are no different. Enticing someone to open is often a matter of making a promise but only enough to generate excitement. Like wearing just the right dress on your first date. Not too much, not too little.

By Julia Moran Martz

Upcoming Newsletter Topics.

Posted May 26, 2010 by Julia Moran Martz
Categories: Marketing

Just a few of the topics we’re working on for future newsletters:

  • Evaluating illustration vs. photography.
  • Dimensional mailers—making your “dream” project a reality.
  • Choosing the right personalization strategy.

Are You Still Selling Your Father’s Postcards, Print Strategist?

Posted April 13, 2010 by Larry Bauer
Categories: Direct Marketing, Marketing

Tags:

Postcards are more popular than ever, though many writers and designers run for cover when they hear the word. Some don’t like condensing the message into such a small space. Others dismiss them as low-end, low-value promotions for companies that can’t afford anything else.

But savvy print strategists know better.

Postcards can be performance powerhouses when done right. In fact, they sometimes do remarkably well even when done poorly. One of the reasons they continue to work is that postcards come “pre-opened.” There’s no decision to make. The offer is right in front of you. Postcards draw immediate attention and give your customers more than a fighting chance to entice prospects even when the sender is unknown.

Perfect for today’s over-messaged marketplace.

Understanding Postcard Basics.

Although our intent is to encourage you to take the form to its highest level, there are four postcard basics that your customers need to get right no matter what technology you integrate into their campaigns:

  1. Attention-demanding Headline. They only get a few seconds to gain attention, so headlines must be big and benefit oriented.
  2. Involving Visual. Draw in the recipient by making the visual and headline work as a team. Visuals should be as large and involving as possible. Showing a product or service in action is always an effective recommendation.
  3. Persuasive Copy. Maintain interest with strong, feature- and benefit-oriented copy. Since the postcard is likely the first in a multi-step approach, copy should entice and qualify.
  4. Call to Action. Be sure your customers are telling recipients exactly what action to take and to assume nothing. They should direct the person to “Call toll free today for a free sample and information kit,” or whatever is the appropriate action for the program. Multiple, user-friendly options tend to work best.

Adding Some Technology Juice.

Separate your clients’ postcards from the competition by taking advantage of the technology you offer (or should be offering):

  • Encourage Data Mining. From variable data digital printing to inkjet imaging, print technology provides opportunities to personalize and customize postcard mailings. There’s a strong likelihood that your customers have plenty of existing data to elevate the performance of their postcards. Encourage them to start simply, if necessary, and then help them work their way up. But do bring data into the picture. Every personalization step they take will deliver better results. Keep in mind that there’s also worthwhile demographic information to append from outside sources while they’re building their internal database. Offer to provide data services through an outside partner or, if you have one, your in-house team.
  • Personalize. Get your clients past the “name thing” quickly. It’s not that using someone’s name isn’t worthwhile—it is—but today’s variable technologies allow marketers to do so much more with photos, graphics and copy if they know anything at all about their target. You can help them create postcards that are variable in every respect with digital presses or do something as simple as offline-inkjet imaging a store location map while you’re doing the addressing. You can also help them create postcards with personalized URLs (pURLs) that connect recipients to a personal landing page where they typically receive an incentive for their effort. Advise your customers to provide offers at the personal landing page that go beyond the original promise, such as an opt-in newsletter or club membership. Besides the personalization effect, the big benefit of pURLs is that they provide a reliable method for tracking postcard recipients who went online as a result of the promotion, whether or not they took advantage of the offer.
  • Involve. Postcards can now be more involving than ever. Consider QR Codes, the two-dimensional barcodes that enable smartphone users equipped with the correct reader software to scan the code. This causes the phone’s browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL. A real estate company, for example, could offer a property on the postcard and the QR code might take the recipient to a video tour of the home. But don’t dismiss involvement devices such as scratch-offs, repositionable notes and other proven techniques that can boost the effectiveness of postcards.

The bottom line is that postcards not only work, but also are evolving tools that can achieve virtually any level of marketing sophistication your customer requires. They provide a great opportunity for Marketing Service Providers to take customers beyond commodity postcards and into more sophisticated solutions.

While you’re at it, why not demonstrate your capabilities through your own postcard campaign?

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

Bauer Associates helps printers of all sizes develop and execute effective marketing strategies. For more information, email Print Strategist Larry Bauer

You can connect with Larry Bauer on LinkedIn. Or follow him on Twitter. Or join Print Strategist on LinkedIn.


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