The 6 Best Direct Mail Teasers of 2016

To get a direct mail prospect, customer or donor inside your envelope, the teaser is a crucial factor.

To get a direct mail prospect, customer or donor inside your envelope, the teaser is a crucial factor. How do you make that happen? What headline can you use to get them to act?

A year ago, I reviewed the thousands of direct mail packages received by Who’s Mailing What! Keeping in mind the great work of so many giants of the craft, like Mel Martin and Bill Jayme, I came up with some of the best direct mail teasers used in 2015.

This year, I spent some time looking through even more mail from 2016. I made a list of two dozen or so good ones; here are six, arranged in no particular order.

1. HelloFresh
HelloFresh teaserThis online meal delivery service loves sending colorful direct mail. Here, a large image supports the teaser. “HEALTHIER” appears in larger type than the rest of the copy.

I also like how it includes two qualifiers. When can you cook healthier? “TODAY.” How? “Without leaving home.”

2. Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports teaserThese guys have produced a lot of great direct mail over the years. Sometimes the name of the magazine alone (or a line drawing of its building) on the envelope was enough to get a big response from subscribers.

This latest effort calls attention to the three “bubbles” it bursts right below the headline. As usual, the intention is to show a little taste of how the magazine’s content inside the mail piece defies pre-conceived notions.

3. Farmers Insurance
Farmers Insurance teaserOversized windows allow you to put compelling copy and images in two places at once: the outer, and the inside piece. Farmers has been leveraging its popular TV commercials with J.K. Simmons as “Professor Burke” in its mail for a few years.

This latest campaign uses an image from one of its “Hall of Claims” spots, where some crazy and funny story results in a claim being paid by the company. With this familiar branding and slogan from TV, an agent can generate a lead, and also play on their experience and training.

4. Met Life
Met Life teaserI’m not sure which I like better about the front of this 6”x9” envelope. The giant “$0” is impossible to miss. But the crisp, short statement works so well: “No down payments … Ever.” No wiggle room there. None.

5. Sierra Club
Sierra Club teaserSpeaking of making a point with minimal copy, you can’t get much more concise than “BUZZ KILL” in a distressed typeface. Paired with a photo of a dead bee, it’s a good way to introduce people to the collapse of bee populations due to pesticides. Many of the variations of this fundraising direct mail package include a packet of free seeds for attracting pollinators.

6. Sirius XM
Sirius XM teaser“You served for us. Now it’s our time to serve you,” this teaser says. And inside, the letter is from the company’s VP & GM Operations, John Archer. He also happens to be a Navy Reserve Captain.

He offers an impressive 25% lifetime discount on the service to his fellow veterans. I’d love to see more segmentation like this, mail that explicitly honors our service members.

So, those are some of my top picks. How about you? What teasers rock your world (or your customers), even if they’re a few years old? Please, let’s talk about it in the comments below!

Saving Bees With the Ultimate Direct Mail Freemium

Direct mail freemiums can seem pretty dull after a while when you’ve seen as many as I have over the years at Who’s Mailing What! But sometimes a tactic — a simple packet of seeds — makes me sit up and take notice … and it all started with dying bees.

Direct mail freemiums  can seem pretty dull after a while when you’ve seen as many as I have over the years at Who’s Mailing What! Address labels, notepads, calendars, stickers … you can argue about how much real value they provide to donors these days. And, even knowing that they still lift response for many nonprofits, I might agree with you.

But sometimes a tactic — a simple packet of seeds — makes me sit up and take notice … and it all started with dying bees.

The collapse in honeybee populations in recent years is a big story because it has implications beyond the intrinsic worth of an animal species. Besides providing honey, bees pollinate the crops that provide a third of American food. Yes, a third. That’s a lot of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Bees_01Originally I wanted to write about how environmental groups are fundraising around this crisis. I had gathered mail from Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Earthjustice, and intended to compare outers, letters, incentives, etc.

Then, a #10 envelope from the Sierra Club was dropped on my desk.

SierraC_01There’s nothing like a short teaser in a distressed typeface (“BUZZ KILL”) and a large image of a dead bee to immediately grab your attention.

This member acquisition effort centers on how the usage of certain pesticides is threatening farms and businesses because it is also killing bees. The letter and inserts name the culprits, and there’s a brief petition to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the reply form to push for a legislative remedy.

So in most respects, Sierra Club isn’t doing anything different from its colleagues named earlier, with one exception: this envelope includes a “BEE FEED Flower Mix.”

SCSeeds_01As the packet says, these seeds are for flowers that “provide nectar and pollen to wild bees, honey bees, and other pollinators.” Besides growing instructions, the back of the pack lists the ingredients: seeds for California Poppy, Blue Flax, New England Aster, etc.

Seeds have long been included in direct mail packages, but purely as an incentive to donate. Any connection to a group’s specific message or appeal has been tangential at best.

Here, the seed packet is a powerful involvement device, not a reward. It gives the recipient something literally hands-on to do: plant seeds for flowers that will save bees. It doesn’t get any more practical or relevant to the mission than that.

Also, like other elements mailed by advocacy groups, it makes the contributor a partner in the mission. Instead of a “street team,” you’re part of the garden team.

As the letter puts it: “Before long, we’ll provide plenty of clean, healthy, unpoisoned food for bees. We’ll regenerate the bees and the planet.”

The front and back of the packet also contain reassurances that the seeds are untreated and non-GMO, important considerations for much of the target audience for this mailer.

One slight criticism: the call to action (to use the seeds) appears three times in the letter, but nowhere on the reply form. Even with a lot going on there, it’s another opportunity to connect the dots for the donor.

You know that old parable about the kid throwing beached starfish back into the water?

A packet of seeds may not seem like that much either, but it will still make a difference.