Direct-Mail Primer: How to Get Your Envelope Opened
Don’t get me wrong: Direct mail is a great tool. One of the greatest innovators of direct mail, Richard Viguerie, once said, “Direct mail is like a water moccasin — silent, but deadly.”
Three of my favorite reasons for using direct mail are 1) you choose who you reach, unlike TV and radio; 2) you control the message — it is not filtered by the press or face-to-face conversation; and 3) results are measured more accurately.
I spend a lot of time creating a mail piece. I consider it a work of art not unlike a painting. I’ve learned over the years to put a great deal of effort into the carrier envelope. It’s initially what the reader sees when it’s pulled out of the mailbox or is laying on the kitchen counter.
Pique their curiosity with your envelope. As a direct-mail writer, you’re in the business of competing for the reader's attention. Color and size are the most basic ways to get it. Here are some ideas that will liven up your carrier.
Mix up your standard carrier
If you’ve used a No. 10 in the past, try using a 6-inch-by-9-inch, 6-inch-by-10-inch or even a 9-inch-by-12-inch. I’ve found that 9-inch-by-12-inch envelopes are getting opened and responded to much better than the standard envelope. Why? They stand out from the crowd. They do what the other pieces of mail in your mailbox don’t do.
The “brown kraft” envelope is still a good choice to use. Because of its deep yellowish color, it conveys importance and officialdom, as it’s akin to a government delivery.
Remember who your audience is
The average donor responding to direct mail is older than 55. If your audience is a conservative mature consumer, you’re probably not going to want to use a hot-pink or strong-color carrier envelope. On the other hand, this might work great if you’re mailing the 20-something crowd.