ProSpeak: Class Wars in Our Mailboxes
According to the USPS’ numbers, First Class mail declined 5.7 percent in 2011 vs. the previous year, while Standard mail actually increased by 8.6 percent during the same period. What this translates to is a shift in the first-to-standard ratio. It is this re-proportioning that is being overlooked by many direct marketers who are trying to address shrinking budgets and declining response rates in their creative strategies.
A gross overgeneralization of the “look” of each class of mail would be that Standard mail is more commercial and glossy, while First Class is dominated by “plain” and less graphic and envelopes.
The re-proportioning of mail class volumes has brought about fewer plain packages and more glossy in mailboxes.
Re-examine your creative strategy
Many creative direct marketers have a hard time recommending a plain white envelope rather than a four-color carrier featuring a visually compelling image. And many organizations may not feel they are getting their money’s worth. But the value of a sound creative strategy lies as much with the strategy as it does the creative.
It may defy your creative impulses to be bolder to stand out, but as more and more of the mailbox is being dominated by bold appeals, a contrarian creative strategy may be in order. A common creative marketing exercise is to look at what your competitors are mailing to help direct your strategy. Don’t discount the value of developing strategies within your market while also considering the macro-strategy version of this exercise.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to look at what you get in the mailbox on any given day. From there, think about ways in which you can stand out among your competitors. Testing and case studies abound about the effectiveness of a contrarian creative strategy in both the commercial and nonprofit sectors across all media.