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.

Is How-To Content in Your Junk Mail Drawer?

I took a little time the other day and went through a drawer at work where I keep a motley collection of direct mail pieces I’ve collected over the years. Some of them have made their way into videos. Some of them I used in blog posts. And quite a few I forgot I even had.

I took a little time the other day – like an hour – and went through a drawer at work where I keep a motley collection of direct mail pieces I’ve collected over the years. Some of them have made their way into videos. Some of them I used in blog posts. And quite a few I forgot I even had.

Here’s an example: I have a folder filled with “how-to” mail. These are booklets and postcards that include instructions for various things that various marketers have said we should know how to do. Kind of like The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook.

SiteyardHi_01Speaking of which, check out the cover of a booklet from Zapwerk, a now-defunct web publishing software provider. Besides that bit of helpful alligator advice, there are tips on “how to avoid being struck by lightning,” “how to survive an avalanche,” as well as lots of illustrations.

Blue Nile_02I found another copy of Blue Nile’s classic “How To Buy A Diamond” brochure that I wrote about a few months ago. So among other things, I was reminded of how to read palms, say “I love you” in various languages, and oh yeah, pick out jewelry the right way.

For a while — about 10 years ago — Volkswagen sent out a series of mail pieces that laid out steps for some basic life lessons, like how to fold fitted sheets. And, ummm … I still have a little trouble with that one.

VWHi_01VW also mailed a 42-page booklet called “Five Things to Build in This Lifetime.” This is pretty cool: detailed plans on how to put together a doghouse, a tire swing, a birdhouse, an Adirondack Chair and a picnic table (which I’ve already done, by the way).

VeerHi_21And then there’s my favorite, a secret society campaign from Veer, the stock photo and type website that was closed by Getty Images earlier this year.

Back in 2008, it mailed a “Members Handbook.” This was a 28-page booklet filled with rules of conduct, special handshakes, code phrases and many riddles. I still haven’t figured some of those out. But at least I got some of the typography humor.

So, what’s so great about a bunch of older direct mail pieces?

First, the copy is so strong and compelling. Curiosity kept me reading in 2016 as much as it did the first time they landed on my desk. And, putting aside the tangential content, each company promoted its own product or service in a way that would make me trust their expertise.

Second, they’re fun to read. They don’t take themselves so seriously, but present their information in a way that makes me smile, or even laugh.

Third, all of this content is simple. With the possible exception of some of the Adirondack Chair instructions, sentences are short and easy to read. Illustrations are plentiful.

Finally, all of these mail pieces are roughly pocket-size. They easily fit into your hands and were printed on good paper. That’s the power of print.

To stand out against the increasing amount of digital clutter, think about how printed content like this can humanize your brand and help you share information with your audience.

How about it marketers? Have some interesting “how-to” mail that’s worked for you, or that you’ve enjoyed? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!