This is my first blog, ever. But it comes now, with a distinct purpose to posit my views about the exploding direct marketing landscape, including direct mail. The maxim “Change or Die” has never been more relevant, and being relevant has never been more alive.
Over the past few years, I’ve limited my written opinions to my monthly column in Inside Direct Mail. Now that IDM is now online in an enewsletter format and DirectMarketingIQ has been launched, this blog is the place where I will more frequently opine, offer the occasional whine and try to entertainly cover the topics of the day. If anything, I hope to start a dialogue with some of you and give you something useful each time I write. I’m certainly not into wasting my time or yours.
My first entry is, logically, about the mail and what I’ve observed over the past year. Even though overall mail volume in down, I still review close to 1,000 mail pieces a month that spill into our Who’s Mailing What! Archive. It can be an exhausting but fun exercise to see what mailers are doing to stand out in the pack.
With squeezed budgets, I’ve definitely seen fewer oversize formats and, instead, many more slimmed-down mailers. The big Kraft envelopes are hardly seen anymore (a fact that makes them a good candidate to resurrect, of course!), magalogs have slipped in number, and the lumpy packages that nonprofits loved to mail have similarly dwindled.
In their place are more economical efforts that are using more 4-color, more with VDP, more attention-getting one-color outer envelopes in orange or yellow (or even black), strikingly more that utilize both sides of the outer, and certainly more self-mailers, especially postcards. Also, more windows are being employed, including full-size windows that showcase the copy inside, including even the back of envelopes. And along with more VDP, more personalized imagery is being employed to connect with the prospect. On the rare side, I’d place blind outers, shape mailers, formats that use obviously recycled material (such as bioplastic), reuseable envelopes and even the brown-bag mailer.
Staying with a discussion about the outer, copy hasn’t changed too much. Teasers are not employed as often, seemingly, with color and imagery getting more play. Mostly, when they do appear, they appear in the expected places — above the address on the front of the outer. Offers, of course, still shout from the many outers, giving prospects no choice but to open the envelope. A few efforts do push the envelope, pun intended, with more outrageous copy than in the past and sometimes using the back of envelope for part of the provocative message to get the envelope opened.
What will the rest of 2010 hold? More mail with personalized URLs, even more color, more variable imagery, shorter copy (alas), etc. I’m hoping to see more inventive efforts, using great DM tactics, and taking advantage of the fact that less mail crowds each mailbox. We shall see …