Direct Marketing, Mail Order, and E-commerce News from the National Mail Order Association
by Robert W. Bly
I confess: For many years, I didn't pay
enough attention to outer envelopes when studying direct mail.
As a copywriter, I was always more intrigued by the design and the writing of the piece.
But, ever since I started doing my own
mailings, I realized just how important the outer envelope can be.
Right now, let's concentrate on outer envelopes used in business-to-business mailings only.
To Tease Or Not To Tease?
I could easily write a whole column on how to write envelope teasers. And I will - soon.
But, while I still believe teasers can be
tremendously effective, I have become conservative of late, and
in many mailings I am advising clients to use plain envelopes.
We are getting good results using this
tactic, and the reason, I suspect, is the increasing volume of direct
mail people are receiving at work. Buried under a mountain of paper, many executives and entrepreneurs
now instantly trash any mail they perceive as containing advertising materials. And clearly, the use of a
teaser does identify your package as "direct mail."
Disguising Your Direct Mail
To combat this, you can "disguise" your
mailing, using an outer envelope designed to make your package
appear to be normal business or personal correspondence rather than direct mail.
Here's how to go about it:
What if you can't afford first-class postage or computer-typed envelopes?
Also, some list owners provide labels with undesirable computer codes or marks (such as asterisks), which
detract from the personal appearance you are trying to achieve. See if they can eliminate these for you.
One More Tip
You will see many mailings in which a person's
name appears hand-typed below the company logo and return
address in the upper left corner of the outer envelope. I've read articles saying that this increases response -
probably because it helps maintain the illusion that the letter is personal correspondence.
Why not take this approach to the next logical
step? Don't use a company letterhead at all. Instead, take a
blank white #10 envelope, and type your name only (or someone else's name) and a return address in the
upper left corner. No logo. No company name. Use your office typewriter (preferably an IBM Selectric with
Prestige Elite, the most popular typewriter typeface). Now give this to your printer as the mechanical for your
When printed, each envelope will look as if the
sender personally typed his or her name and return address on
the outer envelope, and it is virtually impossible to tell that the envelope was offset. I have tested this in small
quantities (unscientifically, I admit) with good preliminary results.
Editors Note: Want to learn more on how to write great advertising and direct mail from the master Bob Bly?
Check out the NMOA bookstore for training, classes and books: http://www.nmoa.org/catalog/index.htm#copywriting
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