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.

[brightcove videoplayer=”5115842574001″ playerid=”4057790005001″ playerkey=”AQ~~,AAAB3F0Fgjk~,iLMUk1o09xryy1Ypo80LdwzRrrPX3phQ” width=”480″ height=”270″ autostart=”false”]

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!

Gamification: Game Playing? Or Game Changing?

Direct marketers have known for years that involvement devices in direct mail draw the reader in and often result in higher response rates. A couple of recent articles about “gamification” and the fact that the Super Bowl game is coming in a few days, got me to thinking about how direct marketers can seize the “gamification” phenomenon. Here are five ideas about how you can use our cultural obsession to play games to

Direct marketers have known for years that involvement devices in direct mail draw the reader in and often result in higher response rates. A couple of recent articles about “gamification,” and the fact that the Super Bowl game is coming in a few days, got me to thinking about how direct marketers can seize the “gamification” phenomenon. Here are five ideas about how you can use our cultural obsession to play games to boost response.

Two recent articles are worth noting for direct marketers. One article was about playing games. The other about gamification.

On one side of the coin, games are used to reduce stress by people who play on mobile devices. In this case, an eMarketer report said that 50 percent of mobile gamers spend up to 30 minutes daily playing games to reduce stress. Others use games to pass time.

On the other side of the coin, offices are using gamification to increase productivity, which reportedly increases stress. In office settings, gaming processes—gamification—engages users to solve problems that improve user engagement, ROI, data quality, timeliness and learning. An article in the Wall Street Journal titled “The ‘Gamification’ of the Office Approaches” noted how productivity inside offices can be tracked and measured in points, fostering competitiveness and excellence.

Gaming is all around us. Millions scratch off lottery tickets or pick random numbers, and casinos are often packed.

In a few days, the biggest football game of the year—the Super Bowl—will be played with millions watching, and a lot of money wagered, as it becomes a national obsession for several days.

Let’s face it: We’re a culture who loves to play games and keep score.

For direct marketers, we can use our cultural obsession with games for a marketing advantage to increase response.

Whether you use offline direct mail with tokens or other involvement devices, or online channels, gaming techniques that are vetted as being legal, can be a good way to perk up your results.

Here are five ideas:

  1. In direct mail, if you mail your prospects or customers frequently, add a game that builds over time for purpose, more interaction and anticipation of your mailing.
  2. For any channel you’re in, use games to create customer loyalty so your buyers return again and again.
  3. In social media, check-ins and badges using mobile apps are like games, and they get your name in front of the friends of your fans.
  4. Encourage people to play a game that requires completing surveys and gives information about themselves for use in nurture marketing programs.
  5. Let your prospects and customers track their game scores, but as a direct marketer using sophisticated marketing automation software, you can turn the tables and score your customers to determine who is most likely to come back and buy again.

Finally, if you’re stumped with generating ideas, get your staff together and play games to get the ideas swirling. Ideation meetings that include games often bring out unexpected creative ideas.

Bottom line, use the principles of gamification to reinvent and re-energize your direct marketing approach. By becoming familiar with gamification techniques now, you or your staff may identify the next big sales game changer.