Direct Mail Fun for the Holidays 

I always like this time of year — not just because of the fun I have at the holidays, but also because of the really fun direct mail pieces I get. If you are not currently creating some fun direct mail pieces to stand out amongst the influx of mailed advertisements this time of year, you are missing out on a great opportunity.

direct mail holiday mailI always like this time of year — not just because of the fun I have at the holidays, but also because of the really fun direct mail pieces I get. If you are not currently creating some fun direct mail pieces to stand out amongst the influx of mailed advertisements this time of year, you are missing out on a great opportunity.

Here are four ideas for creating fun holiday mail:

1. Make It Interactive

Draw attention to your direct mail messaging by making it interactive. Get creative here. Direct mail is tactile — how can you take advantage of that? Endless folds, scratch-and-sniff or coatings can be a great way for people to have fun with your mail. What else can you think of? The idea here is to maximize the qualities that can only be used with direct mail. There is no other marketing channel like direct mail: Command that power in your own creations.

2. Use Mobile

Everyone has their cell phone with them at all times, so how can you make your direct mail fun by getting recipients to use their phones? Sure you can use QR codes and PURLs, but what about going the extra mile and using augmented reality, like Pokémon Go does? How can you do something that people will really like and respond to?

3. Consider Video Mailers

People love to watch videos! Have you considered how you can add them to a direct mailer? This method is not widely used in direct mail yet, so they really help your mail stand out. How can you make this fun? Dress up in holiday costumes and dance around? While that would be funny, how can that wrangle business? Make sure you are not just entertaining, but also selling.

4. Use Die Cuts

Using special die-cut shapes for your mailers is a great way to grab attention. Incorporating a holiday theme with your shape is fun and easy. I have seen some really good ideas with die cuts, so put on your thinking cap. We have even seen mail take on a whole new shape with each unfolded panel as you open it. This is fun for recipients and draws them into the mailer.

You now have some creative juices flowing — don’t let them fizzle out. Write down a couple of ideas right now. Once you have the creative ideas, it’s time to plan out a strategy. What are you trying to accomplish?

Remember that you still need to execute your normal due diligence. Target your mailing list, formulate your message and plan your call to action. Just because you are going to do something fun, does not mean that you get to skip past the drier tasks. Your goal is a higher return on your investment, but a lack of proper planning is just throwing your money away.

Standing out in the mailbox is the best way to get your message not only read, but responded to. Many studies have found that direct mail is a more trusted by consumers than other methods and that a message in direct mail is better remembered than one in email or digital marketing. And yes, millennials like direct mail too — so do not leave them out of your next campaign. Have some fun!

Experiences Cut Through the Noise

We live in a world where all forms of information — from the hottest entertainment to the most niche marketing messages — are a finger click away. They’re ubiquitous. They’re more and more boring! But people will still pay attention to an experience.

Experiences MatterI think maybe we’re missing the lesson behind the success of Pokémon Go, and a few other things that have grown more popular among younger adults in recent years (city living, Fitbits, boutique food, the rise of pop culture conventions): Experiences matter.

We live in a world where all forms of information — from the hottest entertainment to the most niche gadgets — are a finger click away. They’re ubiquitous. They’re more and more boring!

But people will still pay attention to an experience.

They want to pay attention to experiences! They’re hungry for them. The more online and virtual life gets, the more people want to leave the house and get their hands and feet into what they’re doing.

Despite the fears of some prognosticators, Americans are not going quietly into that good night of Wall-E fat-o-loungers.

Scene from Wall-E
Pixar knows what scares us better than Stephen King.

Give people something they want to do, and they’ll leap at the opportunity to do it.

How Can You Use Experiences in Your Marketing?

Pokémon Go has people looking all over the real world to find and train Pokémon, from school yards to downtown monuments. Those are experiences. They create memories. And those memories will forever be linked to the Pokémon brand.

Offering an experience can take a lot of forms. Many party-friendly brands like beer and soft drinks put on summer parties or concerts. Remember Bud Light’s “Anywhere USA” campaign last year? Contests that ask viewers to create a video or something else that takes effort can also be great experiences.

Those are pretty obvious experiences, but I think something like Zappos’s #ImNotABox box counts too. Look at how engaging with this box engages Melissa and Rob in this video, and how it reinforces the Zappos brand as a personal experience to them.

More Experiences Mean More Sales

Marketers know that the more channels you get someone to engage with you on, the more likely they are to make repeat purchases. Similarly, sales people know that every small action you can get your prospect to take (take the call, have a cup of coffee, look at our website with me, critique their current bill, etc.) is one step closer to saying yes to the sale.

Connect those dots: There’s more noise and information than ever before, it’s boring, and it’s in the way of your marketing getting to your target market. They’re glutted on information, but hungry for experiences. Every experience you get them to participate in brings them one step closer to making purchases and becoming repeat customers.

Think about what experiences your target market wants and how you can give it to them. If you can get them to make a connection with you there, you’re a lot more likely to make a connection with their wallets later.

Pokémon Go Finally Gets Augmented Reality Right

We here at Target Marketing have tried to get behind augmented reality on several occasions. I even once said “of course QR Codes are gonna work, it just makes sense!” Scott Stratten said they killed kittens. Turns out he was right. So imagine my chagrin to see Pokemon — a bunch of Bulbasaurs and Jigglypuffs led by an electric rat — role out an augmented reality experience that conquered the world in less than a week.

We here at Target Marketing have tried to get behind augmented reality (AR) on several occasions. QR Codes on the cover, Layar throughout the issue, some goofy stuff in our digital editions …

I even once said, “Of course QR Codes are gonna work, it just makes sense!” Scott Stratten said they killed kittens. Turns out he was right.

So imagine my chagrin to see Pokémon — a bunch of Bulbasaurs and Jigglypuffs led by an electric rat — roll out an augmented reality experience that conquered the world in less than a week.

Pokémon Go leaves Tindr too wet to light, aiming for Twitter next.
Pokémon Go leaves Tindr too damp to light, aiming for Twitter next.

In less than a week, the free Pokémon Go app, available on Android, iOS and the Nintendo DS handheld game, is on its way past Twitter in active users, and already bigger than Tindr. (Does that mean Millennials prefer catching Charizards to dating?)

And the player base isn’t so much kids (although there’s a lot of them too), but young adults who grew up with the earlier Pokémon games.

What does all of that mean for marketers? Here are five things I’ve learned watching the electric yellow rat take over the world … again.

1. There’s a Way to do Augmented Reality Right

I think a lot of marketers have seen that, when it comes to augmented reality, just because you build it does not mean they’ll come. The novelty of augmented reality isn’t enough, and neither is getting a piece of your web content launched from a ketchup bottle or whatever else your trigger is.

Pokémon Go is a game that asks players to walk around outside to capture Pokémon hiding out in he world. And players are doing that! Social media is full of jokes about the fact that young adults are running around all over cities and the suburbs to catch Pokémon. It’s working.

How is that different from what we did in Target Marketing magazine? Or even what Google offered with Google Glass? Well for starters it’s an experience that is 100 percent designed to be augmented reality. Pokémon go doesn’t treat AR as just a way to access existing content on a new device, it is an AR-only experience. If you want those Pokémon, you have to take your phone for a walk.

It’s also a very novel experience that’s put together well. Nantic Labs, the company that actually developed the game for Nintendo, has been doing similar games for a long time. They know how to deliver an experience that gets the best out of the platform. That’s essential to a successful AR experience.

2. Grant the Wish

An article on Vox made a great point about why this game is such a hit with young adults:

Pokémon Go is an attempt at realizing what fans always wanted from Pokémon … Since the games came out for Nintendo’s handheld consoles, fans all around the world have shared a dream: What if Pokémon weren’t limited to the games’ world? What if they were real and inhabited our world? What if we could all be Ash Ketchum, the TV show’s star trainer, who wanders the world in his quest to catch them all and earn his honors by defeating all the gym leaders? I want a Pikachu in real life, dammit!
—”Pokémon Go Explained,” German Lopez, Vox

Every market has an ungranted wish. If you can find that wish and make it come true, they will love you for it.

Pokémon Go lets fans who grew up watching these cartoons and playing these games break that wall they never could and hunt Pokémon in real life.

What does your target market want that no one’s ever been able to give them? Maybe it’s not a specific thing, but a way to access a product or service, like Uber putting taxis at the tap of an app. Maybe it’s an experience they could never have before, like Pokémon Go.

Identify that wish and think hard about how you could do it. You may have five or 10 years of new technology to make something happen that no one realized could be done before.

3. No, You Can’t Buy a Pokéstop