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The Direct Mail Doctor and the envelope wars

Posted by Randy Mitchell on November 18, 2014

In his last article, the Direct Mail Doctor covered the power of personalization and the vital importance of the P.S.

But now, there are two new cases to contend with.

We’re calling these “the envelope wars,” and tempers are certainly running hot. Let’s see if the good doctor can use direct mail best practices to cure the latest outbreak.

Envelope wars, part 1

Dear DM Dr.,
I feel like I’m in the middle of a battle zone. We’re trying to get a new mailing into the market but we can’t do that until our three product managers sign off on it. It took days, but we finally got them to agree on the letter and brochure. Now they’re bickering over the outer envelope…and they’re miles apart. One person wants a big hero image. Another wants our logo to triple in size. And our third product manager is demanding a list of our awards on the envelope. They’re all very headstrong, but which one is right?

- Peacemaker in Peoria


Dear Peacemaker,
You’re confronted with three distinctly different directions and you need to find consensus. That’s never easy. But I do have a solution. Forget about what the product managers want. They may be stubborn but they’re not the decision makers you’re after. Your customers should determine what goes on the outer envelope. It’s all about what’s most relevant to your target, and that’s probably not a logo, some awards or a glamour shot. To determine true relevancy you’ll need to ask yourself (and your product managers) some pointed questions.

What have our customers responded to in the past?
Why does this mailing matter to them?
What do we offer that answers an urgent need?
What makes us stand apart from the competition?
What will drive our target into action now?

The answers to those inquiries should help you pinpoint what the outer envelope needs to convey. And if you’re segmenting your mailing, be certain that you determine the key drivers for each individual segment.

Finally, a few words of warning: Don’t try to do too much. Some marketers think the outer envelope needs to tell the whole story. It simply can’t. That’s why you have a letter and a brochure inside. Those components can provide all the information a customer or prospect needs to make a decision. That’s one of the advantages of direct mail. But the outer envelope’s job is to get noticed and get opened. That requires relevancy.

Anatomy of a Direct Mail Letter


Envelope wars, part 2

Dear Direct Mail Doctor,
I’m planning our direct mail campaign for Q1 next year. It’s a big B2B mailing to an entire industry and I have a small feud on my hands. On one side of the fence is accounting and on the opposite side is sales. Our Accounting Manager keeps reminding me that we have 20 cases of number 10 envelopes in storage at the printer. She wants us to use them and save money on the mailings. That won’t fly with our Director of Sales. He wants to hit his numbers so he thinks the campaign needs to make a big splash. He’s thinking dimensional mailings or at least an oversized package. I’m sure I am not the first one to ask this, but how can I possibly keep both Accounting and Sales happy?

- Middleman in Minnesota


Dear Middleman,
It’s time to change the perspective on this issue.

Let’s not worry about Accounting or Sales for the moment. Let’s consider your target.

You mentioned that you were mailing to an entire industry. I’m guessing that means you have a broad range of titles on your list. You won’t want to send them all the same mailing. In fact, you can base the mailing format on the segment value. That’s one of the advantages of direct mail.

The most valuable/influential segments might warrant the dimensional mailing. The ROI for these major decision makers would probably be much higher, which could justify the expense. In addition, this would be a tough audience to capture so you need a piece that really breaks through. Again, that points to dimensional or oversized. So go tell your Sales Manager he gets what he wants.

Now let’s help out Accounting. For lesser value segments, a number 10 package might be appropriate. But keep in mind we’re not talking about generic mass mailings. This target may not warrant a dimensional piece but they certainly require a relevant message. So it’s important to tailor the messaging on the envelopes to each segment. See where this is going? You can use some of those envelopes in storage and version them by segment. And that way, your Accounting Manager will give you a gold star.

That wraps up the cases for today, but the doctor will be back soon to answer more direct marketing questions.


Topics: Direct Marketing

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