Looks Are Important in Direct Mail
You’re reading this in January, but as I write this column the Christmas season is in full swing. Packages are arriving in the mail from grateful vendors to show their appreciation for our business this past year. Candy, cookies and snacks dominate.
An oversized bright green foil padded envelope arrives from Sebold Capital Wealth Management. I don’t know who they are, but I can guess. As a business owner I receive a steady year-round stream of solicitations from investment firms. The pitch pretty much follows the same formula: inviting me to a no-obligation seminar where I’ll be fed a meal if I listen to their experts tell me how to build incredible wealth from all the extra money that they think I have lying around doing nothing.
I get so many of these solicitations that my office staff doesn’t usually even pass them along to me when they come in the mail. Of course I delete them unopened when they come via email.
This one was different. Everyone knew what was probably inside, but the pretty packaging simply demanded that the envelope be opened. Even after the contents were revealed just to be a letter, a brochure and an invitation, no one could bear to throw it away. Instead of being placed in my inbox it was hand-delivered to me at my desk by the woman who opens the mail.
What differentiated this one bit of mail from the half dozen other (and hundreds of email) financial planning solicitations received recently? The envelope. By simply spending a few pennies on festive seasonal packaging and an extra buck in postage this mailing stood out enough to make it past the gatekeepers into the hands and in front of the eyes of the intended recipient.
The best way to overcome the “junk mail” moniker is to make sure what you are mailing doesn’t look like junk. In this case, it looked like a holiday package. Note that it didn’t pretend to be anything it wasn’t through the use of deceptive labeling. It merely looked important.
Another route to take is to look official. My daughter recently received an envelope from the Secretary of State, who in our home state handles corporations, notary publics and driver’s licenses. Any correspondence is assumed to be important and promptly opened.
In this case, though, it was an official birthday card ... with a weighty message:
“Congratulations on turning 21! As an adult, you have new opportunities and new responsibilities. You are now faced with serious choices that affect your life and the lives of others.
“Some of the most serious decisions you will make concern drinking and driving - a deadly mix. Even though it is now legal for you to drink, it is not legal for you to drink and drive.”
The letter is short and sweet, a gentle reminder targeted for a demographic specifically in need of a public service reminder.
An email would never have made it through. Besides, this age group doesn’t really use email. When the message is important, sometimes nothing but a good old-fashioned letter will do.
Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Copresco in Carol Stream, Ill., is an executive with 40 years of experience in the graphic arts. He founded Copresco, a pioneer in digital printing technology and on-demand printing, in 1987. Email email@example.com or visit www.copresco.com