Can a Notebook Inspire Your Customers?

A direct mail piece that was sent by Intuit to a QuickBooks customer includes a notebook. How can you position a notebook to inspire our customers?

There’s nothing like the feel and look of a brand-new notebook.

I’ve gone to a bunch of conferences in the last few years, and at almost every one, attendees received a brand-new notepad or notebook of some kind.

Some of them were your basic legal pad with lined paper. Two were spiral-bound. And my favorite is more is a vinyl portfolio which has a USB flash drive strap. It’s no Trapper-Keeper, but then again, what is?

I loved them all. And I used them all. Workshops, keynotes, panels … I took notes everywhere.

It’s not like I haven’t tried anything else. But I fumbled a few times trying to use Evernote and other apps.

Putting ink on paper works very well for me. My recall of facts and key points is better, and that’s even with my awful, barely recognizable longhand scrawl. I’m not the only one; some studies back up this observation.

direct mailWhat prompted this post was a clever direct mail piece that was mailed by Intuit to a QuickBooks customer. The outer is plain enough, just a logo and a brief teaser: “A GIFT FOR YOU.”

But inside, Intuit includes, you guessed it – a notebook.

The letter accompanying the “Dare To Dream” notebook thanks the small business for being a customer. It presents it as a way to “celebrate your milestones.”

“It’s good to have a single place for all your most out-there dreaming and down-to-earth planning,” it says. To make those dreams and plans a reality, it continues, they can leverage your QuickBooks data to examine some financing options.

Dissolve , a Calgary-based stock photography and video company, used a similar approach in some of it mail. Sure, the notebooks are tiny compared to Intuit’s, and the pages are blank, not lined. But the intent is the same: providing a platform for the customer’s creativity.

“Plan your shots. List your props … Do the math” one of the books says. And then, it presumes, you’ll be ready to talk with Dissolve.

Think about ways to use a notebook to help your customers to think and dream big, aspire to greatness, solve a problem, and along the way, promote yourself as a solution and a partner.

Inspiration can be found on those pages, even if your handwriting skills aren’t the best.

4 Old-School Direct Mail Tactics That Still Work

Some direct mail techniques have been around for decades. Here are four tried-and-true tactics and why they still drive response.

Here at Target Marketing, we talk a lot about how direct mail is coming back, thanks, in part to new technologies and print techniques that make it more personalized, relevant, and valuable to the customer than ever before.

I’m a big believer in all of these developments. I’m convinced that they are critical to engaging newer, younger audiences in really interesting ways.

But at the same time, I have to marvel at how some formats that have been around for decades, and were once much more commonplace, still show up in the mail I review for Who’s Mailing What! every day.

Here are four tried-and-true tactics that I’ve seen recently, and why they still work.

1. Yes-No-Maybe Reply Stickers
UPMC direct mailThis involvement device was a common practice for many publishers selling subscriptions to magazines and newsletters back in the day. Developed by John Francis Tighe, it’s pretty simple: you give the prospect 3 options on the reply form, with a sticker for each.

This direct mail piece for UPMC, a healthcare system, shows “YES” and “NO” showing through the extra envelope window. The “MAYBE” sticker on the letter is visible only by opening the envelope.

This practice lets you easily segment people who need a little more convincing.

2.The Outer Quiz
Harvard Heart Letter direct mailAsking questions – or getting a prospect to think of a true or false response – gets them to stop and consider the content or the features of the product or service and how they can benefit.

Whether it appears on an inside page, or as here, on the outer for Harvard Health Letter, it helps initially qualify the prospect. In this case, the reader is confronted with some information that may be true. Because it involves health, it’s a good way to push them inside to get some answers. This works for money issues as well.

3. The Interoffice Envelope
Southern Missions direct mailThis envelope design was introduced in the 1980s by Greg Dziuba for Book-of-the-Month’s Fortune Book Club. It often appeared in B-to-B efforts, as it grabs the target customer’s attention and makes a strong connection with customers working in an office environment.

Some fundraising appeals by Sacred Heart Southern Missions, a social ministry, have used this Kraft “Inter-Department Delivery” envelope for over 10 years. The last “deliver to” name here is “Fr. Jack”, with an “URGENT” notation in the comment column.

In the letter inside, Father Jack Kurps relates how a memo in a routing envelope revealed to him a dire need for replenishing funds his organization needs to aid the poor. The tactic, and the message, work together to put the reader in the shoes of that priest.

4. The Photo Lab Envelope
Dissolve direct mailJust as office memos generally travel electronically now, so do pictures. But when you have them printed on higher-quality equipment at a drug store, you still get them in a special envelope.

Dissolve, a stock footage agency, mailed photos from its collections in this envelope. They’re styled like vacation snapshots on heavier stock paper, which adds some heft to the direct mail package.

You can call any or all of these approaches “gimmicks.” But the fact that they persist shows that they still work at getting attention, and ultimately, driving response. They’re worth a test, at least.

Dissolve’s Direct Mail and the Power of Print

For as long as I’ve been with Who’s Mailing What!, I’ve been impressed by the power of direct mail to sell, well … just about anything. One of my favorite things has always been any mail selling stock art, typography, and images.

For as long as I’ve been with Who’s Mailing What!, I’ve loved the power of direct mail to sell, well … just about anything. One of my favorite things has always been any mail selling stock art, typography, and images.

Shutterstock_01For a long time, graphic designers I knew would forward to me eye-catching creative mail like this postcard from Shutterstock. Hilarious, right? OK, full disclosure: I own a cat.

VeerHi_21And I’ve mentioned before this secret society campaign from Veer. This “Members Handbook” booklet is filled with rules of conduct, special handshakes, code phrases, some riddles, and typography humor.

Although most marketing for images is now conducted via digital channels, some companies still use direct mail in their mix.

The company that’s really captured my attention recently is Dissolve, a stock footage and photo provider based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Like some companies, they mail catalogs that are pretty traditional in how they show images from their video and photo collections.

But they also take chances by trying different approaches. A few weeks ago, I wrote about their blank story books and postcards that are great involvement devices.

Last month, Dissolve sent out a brilliant photonovel mail piece titled “Fantastic Footage.” My colleague Ashley Roberts of Printing Impressions got the scoop on this effort. The company’s Lori Burwash told her, “it’s an interesting challenge to convey video in print.”

Please check out Ashley’s fun, insightful take in her “Who’s Mailing What! Confidential” video below.

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These guys get what good, compelling direct mail is all about. With this campaign, the UV soft touch coating and high quality photography grabs me from the start. And, they get their marketing messages in like they should. As Burwash put it, “we like to create pieces that feel like gifts.”

We like them too.

7 Cool Direct Mail Involvement Devices

You want your direct mail to avoid the recycling basket, but how? One good way is to consider involvement devices. These techniques require a prospect to take an action — like peel off a sticker or remove a coupon or a personalized card — to proceed.

You want your direct mail to avoid the recycling basket, but how? One good way is to consider involvement devices. These techniques require a prospect to take an action — like peel off a sticker or remove a coupon or a personalized card — to proceed.

Because of what I’ve seen over the years in reviewing mail for Who’s Mailing What!, there are a lot of good ones out there. A lot. But, I have limited space, so here are seven good ones.

1. Backstage Pass

Mercedes_2Call it what you want – the all-access pass or VIP pass – everyone wants to feel special. Exclusive. Mercedes-Benz mailed this pass to drive leads for one of its Drive Party events. Whether it’s used for a carmaker’s test drive, or a special fundraising gala, the pass is a fun way to boost an ego.

2. Money

RNC_01There’s nothing like cold, hard cash to motivate someone to donate to a cause. Usually, a nonprofit will include a coin in the package. Here, the Republican National Committee recently mailed a $1 bill to “get your attention quickly,” as the letter put it. It is odd that it used the envelope’s address window to show the money front and center. The ask, though, is the same: return the money, with some of your own.

3. Samples

DHC_01DHC USA, a makeup and skincare brand, includes samples in its catalogs. The company literally puts its products in the hands of its customers, and proves that they work. This spread from its catalog shows four of its bestsellers, with descriptions of each and a testimonial as well.

4. Ring Sizers

Danbury_02OK, this one is pretty specialized. Companies selling jewelry, like John Christian and The Danbury Mint, help customers figure out what size ring they wear, or should wear. Instead of visiting a brick-and-mortar store, they only need to go online or make a phone call.

5. Quizzes

Bowflex_01Providing questions and answers gets a customer to think in a different way about the product or service the mail piece offers. Sure, the questions may be leading … but that’s exactly what you want. In this example, Bowflex asks four questions of the prospect. “Do you want a workout that doesn’t hurt your knees and joints?” Who’s going to answer “no”?  Each “yes” answer gives the company a chance to help the prospect realize that they qualify or even need the product.

6. Checklist

HS_01I’ve talked about the folks at Horizon Services before. They’re masters of content marketing, and this list is taken from one of their brochures. For any homeowner facing some very expensive decisions, this is something they can have in hand as they consider their next move.

7. Booklets and Postcards

Dissolve_01Dissolve, a video stock footage supplier, puts a variety of goodies in the mail to drum up inquiries from business customers. It mailed a pack of postcards with images from some of its most popular collections. The goal is to “inspire your life and improve your video projects.” And, their pocket-sized red books are blank inside. “[F]ill these pages with every script idea, ad concept, storyboard sketch, and rough design that comes to mind,” it urges.

The common denominator to all of these is touch. Each item gets the prospect to physically spend more time with your promotion’s message. Every minute that they think about your message, even indirectly, increases the likelihood that they will order.

Do you have some favorite, cool, or unusual involvement devices? I’d love to know. Let’s talk about them in the comments below!