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Sabine Lenz

Making the Grade

By Sabine Lenz

About Sabine

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 


Is Good Business Sense Derailing Your Success?

“All collated and all we have to do is lick the envelopes, affix the stamps and mail the cards off.”

Yippee! We were at the end stages of our spring project: a beautiful self-promotion gift designed especially for our PaperSpecs PRO members (a set of three postcards and belly band, letterpress printed, in a scrumptious A7 envelope).

Now, the last thing I wanted anyone on my team to do was lick the envelopes. The Seinfeld episode where George’s fiancée Susan dies from licking cheap wedding invite envelopes is forever embedded in my mind.

Granted, we were only sending out a few hundred letters; but still, we hand addressed every envelope.

In the days of self-seal envelopes and clear address labels, why did we even go through all that hoopla you might ask? Wouldn’t it have saved time, money and made better business sense? You might be tempted to think so.

Envelopes as extensions of the experience
Despite the fact (or maybe because of it) there are fewer pieces in my mailbox these days, I can spot an impostor a mile away.

Address labels. Really? Metered mail. Seriously?

In my book, and in the eyes of the recipients of your mail, how a message is delivered can be even more important than the content of the message itself. It’s one of those subliminal things that you need to be aware of.

1. Envelopes reflect on your company

When it comes to an introductory letter, a thank you note or a self-promotion, first impressions are important. (Aren’t they always?)

A flimsy #10 envelope sends a certain message about how much you value the recipient of the mailing. It also reflects on your company and how solid and trustworthy you are perceived to be.

2. Envelopes demonstrate that you went the extra step

Granted, e-mails are faster (unless they land in the SPAM folder), and postcards are less expensive to send; but a nice envelope always intrigues and shows the recipient that someone went the extra mile.

3. Envelopes personally addressed always hit the mark

You have no choice. When a hand-addressed envelope crosses your path, you won’t be able to toss it out. Your impulse to find out who made the extra effort to get your attention is too great. You have to open it. And this is your first step to success.

Whether the act of opening the envelope translates to a conversion is in direct correlation to what’s inside your envelope of course. But at this point, you already passed the first hurdle: surviving the clutter on your recipient’s desk.

As for our mailing, of course we used the old wet-sponge technique to close our envelopes. Until they start making envelope glue that tastes like raspberries or has a chocolate flavor...

So far the reaction from our recipients has been fabulous. We love getting a great response which makes the hand addressing and stamp sticking worth our while.

NOTE: There are actually several services that are available to hand address your envelopes—whether you have hundreds or thousands of them. If you’re in a bind, imprint your envelopes with a font that simulates handwriting—there are always new ones available that make it hard to tell the difference.

But please...never...ever use address labels for the important communication with your clients.

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