Creative, Direct Mail

The Innovative Mail Piece: Message In A Bottle

Want to really stand out in crowded mailboxes around the globe? Here are some things to consider if you want to stand out and be considered innovative in your mail piece production.

Let your own creative approach evolve as a free form activity that takes shape as strategies and ideas develop.

Haven’t read Part 1? It’s the basics, content, and design, about making a direct mail piece.

Heighten Anticipation & Extend the Connection

Make each and every campaign cross-channel to ensure you are in your customers’ thoughts at every step along the decision process. Be there when your customer is anticipating an upcoming purchase and to extend the relationship beyond card swipe.

Do you have the email address, physical address, and phone number of the persons on your mailing list? This is most likely true for in-house databases. Why not send a message to the given campaign segment on every platform?  You could send out an email before the direct mail has shipped to heighten anticipation. Sheera Eby relates that there is a “significant synergy between targets receiving both direct and email, particularly if a campaign is developed from an integrated standpoint”.

Patrick Fultz created eTriggerPro. Different than sending an email before the direct mail piece is sent it auto triggers email & SMS to recipients the very day that the mail piece is delivered. Talk about heightening anticipation!

How might you also use these features for email and SMS to continue the conversation and extend the relationship?  You might send the SMS the next day. You might wait a few days later to follow-up about the mail piece call to action, or inquire if the recipient has any questions about your offer or company.  Could you connect the tracking codes so that when the recipient orders (in any way; phone, internet, in store) it automatically sends an email or SMS not only thanking them for the purchase but also connecting it back to the original direct mail campaign?

Mail Piece: Delight & Engage the Recipient

Challenge the recipient to get them involved – test their knowledge, make them work for the information or by incorporating some dimension of play into the design.

Craig Conrad tells a story about 2 ½ foot robot delivered to the offices of corporate executives, the goal was to sell an appointment. This campaign worked well because was intimately targeted, toyed with human nature to engage curiosity by arriving in a large box and speaking to the inner child dimension of play and emotion. As well this campaign delivered an item the individuals would want to keep and even display.

The USPS is awarding companies for their efforts to delight and engage mail recipients for the Irresistible Mail campaign.

Whenever I think of pushing the envelope with customer delight and engagement I consider Disney.  Disney doesn’t wait for others to innovate; they drive other companies to innovate.  Disney wants to create an engagement feature? They call up the company (whether it’s a social media platform, an app, or someone in technology industry) and say, “how fast you can make your product do this for us?”

Fortunate for the rest of us, we do not need to drive others’ innovation, specifically the USPS.  Some question the relevance of the USPS in this digital world, but they are holding their ground.  Just recently they announced a program which would allow mail customers to see the contents of their mailbox before returning home for the day. The platform also allows marketers the ability to create content and links within this preview email. Sounds like something we should all be considering a place for in our multi-channel marketing strategies to further delight and engage our customers. Read more about this platform…

Mail Piece: Customize & Experiment

The best way to innovate is customizing (research as much as you can about what makes you unique, what makes your customers unique, what makes your product unique, etc.) and experimenting (test and analyze).

  • Like the 2 ½ foot robot sent to corporate executives how can you customize your direct mail campaigns to fit the desires and needs of your customer persona?
  • It’s okay to experiment; you will actually learn more when your experiments fail. Just remember to ask, what did we learn from this experiment?
  • Exercise your imagination continually. Imagine all the possibilities, even the impossible. For example; imagine your mail piece stacked in a mailbox:
    {insert visual}

There’s a lot that goes into a mail piece from concept to product. Just remember to start at the beginning with a concept and an offer. Let these guide your development process as you integrate content and design. Keep it simple. It’s better to have a basic mail piece that has been successfully delivered and read, than an over-the-top one that never arrives or recipients find confusing. Let your concept direct your content and design, and your customers direct how you gradually innovate.

by Emily White

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