The Little Mailing That Did
February 1, 2007

The Vermont Foodbank is the only food bank in the state of Vermont. For years, CEO Deborah Flateman says, it had relied on volunteers to produce its acquisition and renewal mailings in-house. The pieces themselves were inexpensive, consisting mostly of a letter with the organization’s letterhead and simple reply elements.

Underwear Enclosed… No, Really
February 1, 2007

It’s not every day someone sends you underwear. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of fundraising packages I receive annually, this one from the Southwest Indian Children’s Fund is a hands-down standout.

I have bins full of T-shirts and umbrellas and fleece blankets and teddy bears and all sorts of pens and pins and what-nots in addition to heaps of non-premium mail. But until that fateful day, no one had ever sent me underwear.

Response Boosters Give Mailing Impact
January 30, 2007

This mailing from the World Wildlife Fund caught my eye because it’s simple, and efficient in its use of some key direct-mail response boosters. The face of the 4-inch-by-9.5-inch outer envelope shows a four-color photograph of a tiger with the teaser, “Who’s Watching Her Back?,” and on the back is response-booster No. 1: a time-sensitive premium offer that reads, “Respond within 10 days to get your choice of three WWF Gund plush animals! See inside for details …” Inside the carrier is an 8.5-inch-by-14-inch, double-sided letter with a detachable reply device at the bottom. The letter is printed on yellow paper in typewriter font and

A Complete Package
January 23, 2007

I’ve seen this mailing from the National Audubon Society in the stacks of mail I’ve pored through each month since taking on the task of writing this feature more times than I can count. And every time, it’s stands out because it makes joining the National Audubon Society seem like Christmas all over again. First, the 6-inch-by-9-inch full-color, glossy outer envelope announces that inside the mailing are details about a free bird feeder, and displays a picture of said gift. The 5.5-inch-by-8.5-inch reply slip features a detachable, cardboard, personalized temporary Audubon membership card. Copy next to the card informs recipients that a gift of as

A Good Way to Get “Spotted”
January 16, 2007

Ever see a spotted outer envelope? I hadn’t until I came across this mailing by Jewish Children’s Fund in our Who’s Mailing What! Archive. The 4-inch-by-9.5-inch, white carrier is speckled with beige spots and includes the teaser, “Ever see a spotted zebra?” above an illustration of a zebra with spots. The outer sets up the theme of this mailing: A zebra with a spotted coat is something you’ll never see, but a Jewish child without a coat is common. In fact, it’s something you easily can find in New York, where JCF is headquartered. The 8.25-inch-by-10.75-inch letter is spotted, too, and lays out its purpose

Head-Turning Copy
January 9, 2007

This package from the Parents Television Council uses urgent, motivating copy to rally constituents. Enclosed in the 4.5-inch-by-10.25-inch carrier printed on brown paper bag-like material is a four-page, 8.75-inch-by-10.75-inch brochure that holds a petition, a two-page content summary of the “explicit” content in the TV show “Rescue Me,” and a reply form. The petition to elected representatives demands “Cable Choice,” which would allow households to opt-out of receiving channels that they feel have indecent programming. The content summary includes partial transcripts of the first four episodes of the 2006 season of “Rescue Me.” A caution at the top of the summary reads, “CAUTION: This material

When More Is Too Much
December 19, 2006

When it comes to direct mail, the saying about less being more often is true. Sometimes, more of something is just that: more. And for direct mail especially, more elements can make packages feel cluttered and recipients overwhelmed. That’s my impression of this mailing from the Consumer Reports Foundation. Inside the 4.5-inch-by-10.5-inch outer envelope are eight additional elements. First, there’s the reply device, which includes the ask: Consumer Reports is doing a raffle. Ticket stubs have been included in the mailing, but a contribution to the Consumer Reports Foundation is requested. Actually, there is only a “Yes” box next to the ask, and it’s

High Touch With Low Gloss
December 12, 2006

Because most of the mailings I write about for this column are basic packages such as membership renewals, holiday campaigns, annual-fund appeals and acquisition pieces, this high-touch mailing from the ACLU to some of its existing members for its Legacy Challenge really jumped out at me. Mailed in a plain, white No. 10 envelope, this mailing is thorough in its presentation of the Legacy Challenge. The three-page, 8.5-inch-by-11-inch letter lays out the initial ask and how the program works. If the recipient provides for a bequest to the ACLU in her will or trust, 10 percent of the bequest will be matched by a

On the Road to Postal Reform
December 12, 2006

Long-awaited postal reform finally seems a reality, as Congress passed postal reform bill H.R. 6407 — a compromise bill that grew from H.R. 22 — overnight on Dec. 9. The bill awaits President Bush’s signature for final approval. So what will be gained for mailers if the bill is approved? Maynard Benjamin, president and CEO of Alexandria, Va.-based Envelope Manufacturers Association, says that at its most basic, what will come is a different way of setting postal rates, a different way of regulating the mail and a different way of operating the U.S. Postal Service in the future. “We have a mail system that’s

Congress Passes Postal Reform Bill
December 11, 2006

The postal reform bill (H.R. 6407) that passed today in the US Senate and House of Representatives represents a major victory for the millions of businesses, nonprofit organizations, and consumers across the country that rely on the United States Postal Service (USPS). The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) extends its appreciation to the legislators who worked tirelessly in the closing hours of the 109th Congress to ensure that a final compromise was reached that allowed the introduction of H.R. 6407 on Thursday and its passage in both houses overnight on Friday.   The final legislation reflects an agreement reached among key members of Congress, the