10 Fun Direct Mail Pieces for When Your Mail’s Gone Stale

Over time, mail pieces can become boring and less effective, because we end up using the same formats over and over again. Have you considered spicing up your next mailer?

Over time, mail pieces can become boring and less effective, because we end up using the same formats over and over again. Have you considered spicing up your next mailer?

There are a lot of different things you can do. Some are more expensive than others. One way to change up your mailer without a ton of additional cost it to change the way you fold it. There are many fun folds you can try as self-mailers or in envelopes.

5 Fun Types of Folds as Self-Mailers

  1. Coupon Mailer If you plan on including coupons with your mailer, check this one out.
  2. 6 Panel Mega If you need a lot of space, this is a great fold. It will qualify as a flat though, so the postage will be more than a smaller size.
  3. Pocket Mailer If you would like a pocket in a letter size mailer, check this one out.
  4. Rectangle Snake This is super fun fold for a self-mailer. Check it out.
  5. Star Iron Cross This is unique and can hold inserts. Check it out.

5 Fun Types of Folds in Envelopes

  1. Twist This is a super fun fold with a real cool factor! Check it out.
  2. Stepped Accordion This would work well if you have a bunch of headings in your copy or some other type of segmentation. Check it out.
  3. Double Swinger This has a professional feel to it and is not boring.
  4. Stacked Tulip This is very creative and unique. Check it out.
  5. Broadside Reveal This will allow you to have a peek-a-boo like window. Check it out.

Which ones are you interested in? There are so many more fun folds to try. Your creative design can really make these folds pop. Give your prospects and customers a fun experience with your next direct mail piece. There is one more fold I want to highlight, that is the endless fold. These are super fun and your prospects and customers will flip through them more than once. Check out an example.

You will need to put this in an envelope to mail, but imagine their surprise as they keep flipping folds. The longer they spend flipping through your mail piece, the more your message sinks in.

Are your creative juices flowing now? There is one final thing to keep in mind as you design for new folds; Have your mail service provider check your concept against postal regulations to make sure you are complaint. Otherwise you will have to pay extra fees.

Are you ready to get started?

Get Your Direct Mail Noticed

Direct mail is not effective if recipients do not read it. The first thing that your direct mail needs to do is to get noticed in the mailbox. This can be a real challenge. Direct mail is a very effective tool when done correctly. The golden rule is list, design, and offer, generally in that order. However, if you stop to think about it, there is a reason for the golden rule. You need to send mail to the people who will want it, so there is your list. You then need to design an appealing piece and you need to provide them with a good offer. So assuming that you are mailing to the right people, you now need a design to get noticed.

Direct mail is not effective if recipients do not read it. The first thing that your direct mail needs to do is to get noticed in the mailbox. This can be a real challenge. Direct mail is a very effective tool when done correctly. The golden rule is list, design, and offer, generally in that order. However, if you stop to think about it, there is a reason for the golden rule. You need to send mail to the people who will want it, so there is your list. You then need to design an appealing piece and you need to provide them with a good offer. So assuming that you are mailing to the right people, you now need a design to get noticed.

Here are five ideas to get your direct mail campaign noticed:

  1. Variable Data Messaging: Target your message to the individual or to grouped personas. The better targeted the message the more likely they are to respond. This can be as simple as a tagline on an envelope or as complex as variable images and text.
  2. Use Color Envelopes: Color is inviting and not used often enough. Your envelope will get opened because it is unique. There are many standard colors available that do not drastically increase your costs. Keep in mind some colors are not USPS approved, so contact your mail service provider to make sure you stay within postal regulations.
  3. Use Stamps: Many direct mail pieces use indicias for postage. There is a stamp available for each postage class. In most cases they can be affixed by machine so you should not see a drastic increase in cost by using stamps. Stamps are seen as more personal and therefore more important.
  4. Use Larger Pieces: You can use up to a 6 x 10.5 self-mailer or a 6.125 x 11.5 postcard and still pay the lower letter size postage rate. Take advantage of that. Larger pieces get noticed. If you do not mind the postage cost increase, you can go even larger at a flat size postage rate. Your mail service provider can help you choose what will work best for you.
  5. Add Fun Taglines: Get your recipients excited about what they are going to find in the envelope. You can use color ink to make the tagline pop and even change the angle. It’s okay to be funny if you can do so while keeping with your brand image and the theme of your marketing piece.

Remember to change only one thing at a time, so that when you are analyzing your results you will be able to see if the change you made has increased your response. It would be best to have a control group of what you always have done, and then split off a segment to try the new piece with. This will give you the most accurate results and allow you to make adjustments with each campaign.

The Complexities of Simplification

Remember when you were a kid and you learned how to fold a single sheet of paper into a little device that would allow you to tell fortunes? I was reminded of that device recently when my controller walked in carrying the latest direct mail package she received from FedEx. Being a good voyeur of marketing content, she brought it to my attention because she had inadvertently ripped one of the contents inside—and flung it down on my desk declaring it was “stupid”

Remember when you were a kid and you learned how to fold a single sheet of paper into a little device that would allow you to tell fortunes?

It seems it’s called an Origami Fortune Teller and over 1.3 million people have watched the instructional video on YouTube (side note: wish I’d thought to create that video when I didn’t have anything else to do).

I was reminded of that device recently when my controller walked in carrying the latest direct mail package she received from FedEx. The 6″ x 9″ envelope carried a simple teaser line: “My FedEx REWARDS.”

Being a good voyeur of marketing content, she brought it to my attention because she had inadvertently ripped one of the contents inside—and flung it down on my desk declaring it was “stupid.”

It turns out the envelope contained two items: a single-sided “card” and a multi-fold, multi-glued insert that was … well … stupid. This particular insert added no value to the communication other than it was one more item in the envelope.

Whoever designed it probably needed to watch the Origami Fortune Teller video to get some better ideas on how to design something like this because, with its multi-fold/unfold option, it simply wasn’t intuitive—thus the ripped piece that was now lying on my desk.

The insert didn’t add one additional piece of information—not one nugget of “surprise!”—and, in fact, the message inside (that it was easy to earn more great rewards and experiences) was counterintuitive to the experience we were having with the insert.

I think this is a great example of creative gone awry. I’m fairly sure the marketing strategy behind this direct mail package was to inform customers that there was a new FedEx Rewards program. And, the support messaging was:

  • To acknowledge that our company had reached a certain status level.
  • To inform us that we would earn five points on every $1 spent.
  • To excite us that we could redeem points from a robust rewards catalog.

All of that information was on the single-sided “card” that was easily scannable—so why the addition of the extra piece? Why spend the money creating, designing, printing, scoring, cutting, gluing, assembling a device that added no value?

Shall we blame it on the bored production manager who wanted to produce something more exciting than a card in an envelope? Or perhaps the art director who wanted to include a new format in the portfolio? Or the marketing manager who had a bigger budget to spend and it was “use it or lose it” time at the end of the quarter?

Is anyone in marketing at FedEx measuring the effectiveness of this package? Is it being tested against a package that doesn’t contain the insert? Or against a postcard? Or a simple letter in an envelope? If I was making a bet, I’d bet that the response rate AND the cost-per-responder on the package with the insert will be the biggest loser.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m all for innovative, fun, intelligently designed interactive marketing materials that achieve the desired the marketing objective. But when you have a simple message to communicate, keep the communication simple. Oh, and think about giving the mock up to a couple of people not related to the project to see if they can open it/interact with it without tearing it to shreds.