Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bulk Mail Design Study #3

Bulk mail received on Thursday, 28 Oct 2010 - FRONT
BACK
Today was a busy day at the mail box and includes a wide range of direct mail options.

Today's bulk mail consists of:

  • 4 postcards
  • 2 envelope mailers
  • 1 flyer

Piece 1 (top left): The half sheet size envelope has something inside of it. Imprinted on the front is "FREE gift enclosed". Offering something free inside your mailer is a great option, but it's all the more powerful when you can feel that there is something inside the envelope and you just have to open it to find out what it is. (It was a pen, and a pretty nice one too). This isn't surprising since it was mailed from a pen company, but the packaging they used made it seem like something larger.


Piece 2 (top center): Original! If you look closely the top right hand side of the postcard isn't black, it's actually die cut around the shape of the dog. This may be one of the first non-square corner custom cards I've ever received! It really grabs your attention. The humor this card uses, which can be effective if done well, is found in the testimonial printed on the card -


"I am very upset. Your customer service was excellent. That stinks! Now I'm going to start expecting it from all the other companies I work with. Now see here, if you're going to continue to pull stunts like this, why I'll just...I'll just...keep coming back. So there! - grin-"

Testimonials that well written aren't very common so this company was sure to put it to good use by developing a mailer around it. The great quote, plus the image, plus the die cut, and the chuckle you get out of it, all turn into one piece that won't soon be forgotten.

Piece 3 (top right): A small 5.5" x 4.25" postcard. This company offers printing on difficult surfaces (things that aren't flat) including a variety of surfaces (wood, metal, glass). What I don't get is what any of that has to do with a keyboard and a stethoscope? Do they offer tech support too?

On the back side is a grayscale watermark image of golf balls lying in the grass. This seems disconnected to their message. I'm assuming that pictures of their quality work would be better suited for any future mailings. And even though you are sure to notice the bright sticker (which asks that you give this card to your "Printed goods" buyer) it looks like an unprofessional afterthought.

Piece 4 (middle left): This wide screen postcard is beautiful full color and includes variable data printing in 5 places!! And they used the right name. Clean design, specific call to action and all the details about when and where to complete that call to action are included offering me a clear path to follow.

Piece 5 (middle right): This envelope mailer looks official...almost. The return address says "Program Headquarters". I don't know which program or whose headquarters but anything from HQ must be important, right? It also includes the text "Time sensitive material enclosed". I'll probably open it, instead of sending it straight to the trash can, just in case the FBI is trying to recruit me for some important mission, but I'm pretty sure it's just another piece of junk mail.

P.S. I opened it. The local car lot is having a sale!

Piece 6 (bottom left): This mailer is actually a full sheet flyer, folded in half and spot-glued shut.  Sending a full sheet mailer requires a sturdy (and more expensive stock) and will cost you more in postage. Sending a flyer that is folded and tabbed stills gives you the full 8.5" x 11" message board, but saves you money on production and postage. And because it's obvious the piece opens, but you can only partially see what is inside, you're sure to open it all the way to see the rest of the picture. The full color imprint is nice.

Side note - if you visit their home page, the same image and offer are shown front and center. This is a key element to tie your physical paper media in with your digital media. If I wanted to take advantage of their special offer, visited their website and couldn't quickly find what I was looking for, I might think the offer had expired and I'm not likely to keep searching. Make it easy; make it obvious. Make sure your messages from multiple sources all match up.

What if I'm not interested in their current offer? Let's say I don't need to buy any fleece jackets right now, but I might need to in a few months? Is it likely I'm going to remember this company? Especially after I throw their flyer in the garbage? All the design work, printing cost and postage just for one shot at a sale?!? Just for a few seconds of exposure?? But what if they had included a magnet with their flyer? I'd keep the magnet on my filing cabinet, and next time I needed to place an order, I'd know right where to look!

Piece 7 (bottom right): A full sheet, full color, rigid postcard from TGIF. Yummy looking food, good design. The back side includes their special offer, two coupons (always distinguishable because of the dotted line imprint) and in the top left includes the addresses of the three closest locations. (Nice touch). This is a great direct mail piece.

But why not include a magnet? I know, I know. I'm like a broken record. But magnets live on fridges. Fridges are where people go to look for food. Having a nice full color picture of a delicious meal and a phone number (or website) for takeout visible just at the moment of greatest hunger would be a sure fire way to stay busy at meal time.

And the winner is:

As great as piece 7 is (and I'll likely go there soon for lunch), I'm going to have to choose piece 2. It's hard to compete with original, in approach and shape. And finding a bit of humor in the mailbox is a rare treat. Something different always grabs attention. And when you have someone's attention, they are more likely to focus on what your message is. Different is good.

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