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Direct Mail - Getting You Envelope Opened
by: Robert Wilkinson
4/15/07


If you use direct mail it's in your best interest to get as much of it opened and read as possible. You may have spent a small fortune on the copywriting and the expensively printed brochure, but if you don't ensure that as many packs are opened and read as possible, then both copy and brochure are wasted.

There are two main schools of thought on how to avoid being binned. The first is to use disguise, and the second to use persuasion.

Using disguise is mainly a business to business approach but it works for business to consumer mailings too. Business to business promotional mailings are marked out in that they don't appear to have been handled individually. This can be indicated by an envelope pre-printed with a postage mark, and use of a window or address labels to show an address.

Try one or more of the following to give the envelope a more individual look.

Use stamps. They have to have been put on by hand, so it must be individual. There's no more obvious an indicator than a pre-printed stamp impression. When a preprinted impression is used in conjunction with a window envelope it practically screams advertising so don't do it.

Hand write the address on the envelope. This is probably only viable for higher value items but will certainly get more attention this way. It doesn't have to be copperplate, it just needs to look as though it's been handled individually.

Use an unusual material for the envelope, say vellum or a textured paper. In tests conducted by a paper merchant, this alone increased responses significantly. The additional cost for the special paper was more than compensated for by the additional revenue generated by the mailing.

Again, do anything to make your mailing appear more individual and personal to the recipient. Probably the most important element is the use of stamps. This on it's own can be enough to get you under the recipient's radar.

Secondly, use persuasive tactics. This is completely the opposite from disguise and is used mainly for business to consumer, but again it works for business to business too. In this instance we mark it out specifically as commercial by using advertising images, copy and headlines on the outside of the envelope itself. In this instance it doesn't matter if you use a printed postal impression.

Unlike the previous method which uses curiosity to get your envelope opened, we need to give the recipient a good reason to open the envelope. This can take a variety of forms, but as a couple of examples you can state a benefit, "Increase sales by 15%", or alternatively provide an incentive, "Reply by the end of the month and get 2 for the price of 1".

Be very clear and very specific about what the contents are going to achieve and remember you are only trying to get the envelope opened and read. Avoid anything vague. Don't expect to appeal to everyone using this method. You don't have that much room on the envelope, and you can't be all things to all people.

Hopefully you will achieve a strong enough response in a small percentage of recipients that they open, and read the contents. Your persuasive copy will follow on logically from the envelope copy, and keep your prospect interested.

There is a lot of advise against this in business to business direct mail, and there is probably an element of truth in this. If you are mailing to an executive whose mail is screened then it's likely good advice. However there are plenty of owner/managers out there that still open their own mail, if the offer or benefit is clear enough and of interest, it will get opened. You may well consign your mailing piece to the bin for the 99.5% of your prospects by doing this, but it wasn't about them was it?

In summary it's pretty simple. Don't be run of the mill. Step away from the norm and make sure your envelope is overtly commercial with a clear benefit or incentive or alternatively make it look it personal. If you do this you are halfway to getting it read and that's more than half the battle.
 

About The Author

Robert Wilkinson is th ownder of http://www.arhiann.com a direct mail production company specilising in mailings for small and medium sized business.
 

This article was posted on March 15, 2007

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