How to give your direct mail piece a fighting chance


no junkmail

There’s so much talk about digital these days, you might think traditional (paper) direct mail just crawled away into a corner and died. But, like radio after TV came along, paper DM is still here. If my letterbox and workload are anything to go by, there’s still plenty of DM landing on Britain’s doormats.

I recently received the two pieces shown below, from marketers who I’ve no relationship with. The pieces represent different ends of the creative spectrum, or opposing approaches to selling. And they graphically illustrate the importance of first impressions.

The first, a mail pack from Barclaycard, is, in my view, a total waste of money.  It’s just a standard envelope with a window and a logo. No outer copy, just a message on the back asking me to recycle the envelope and its contents. Which is what I would normally do straight away, without first looking inside.

Why, Barclaycard, should I open your pack?

Barclaycard (Small)Barclaycard isn’t the only big-name marketer to do this. Virgin Media and others have also sent me similar acquisition packs in the past year. Packs with extremely ordinary outer envelopes, without any enticement to open them.

Why do they do this? Unless there’s an appealing offer, a teasing line, or something intriguing in the feel of the pack, such as a bulky shape hidden inside, people aren’t going to open these packs, are they?

Can you imagine an email marketer sending you an email without a subject line? Would you open it? I wouldn’t.

How to warm up a cold direct mail piece (Well done, Bupa)
coffee- Bupa (Small)Fortunately Bupa’s marketer seems to know what they’re doing. They clearly want my business. They get my attention by surprising me with a coffee cup-shaped mailer. But is it relevant? On the verge of dismissing it as a gimmick, I read the message on the outer. Under a Bupa logo it says:


In an instant, I’m hooked. A high quality health insurance brand has given me a clear idea of how affordable it is. Bupa has turned a bit of card from junk mail into something of value. And it’s done that before I’ve even opened the piece. And even if I don’t open it, a memorable idea about Bupa’s value has been planted in my brain.

There’s a basic lesson here. If you want your cold mailing to be effective, start with the outside and make people want to look inside.




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