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NMOA Direct Marketing Article
How to Dress Up Direct Mail
By Deborah Simpson, President Multi-Craft

Those familiar with the marketing industry know that nearly anything is possible when it comes to print and mailing. However, managing budgetary, logistical and ROI concerns is what gives us pros the expertise to develop the smartest mailing campaigns for our organizations or clients. Recent studies show that dimensional mail produces higher response rates than other direct mail formats. Recently, marketers have reported response rates anywhere between 25% and 50%.

So, what's new in dimensional mail?

It is not just about sending something fancy; it's all about engaging clients and prospects. Every day we receive letters, postcards and flat mailers and if they don't grab your attention, they are quickly discarded. The Winterberry Group reports that 63% of consumers said they were more likely to open a direct mail piece that came in an interesting package. Dimensional mail maintains effectiveness in engaging the recipient based on shape or appearance alone, but you'll be much better off to take the extra steps in delivering a stand out message.

• Make it pop! Sending an item that is playful or requiring some assembly extends the engagement. This takes the recipient from being intrigued enough to open your mailer, to engaging with the meaning behind it and more likely to take another step toward action.

• Make your dimensional mail campaign shareable and memorable. Social media is not the only way to get target customers to share something. In fact, it could be argued that a clever mailer, being physically shown to a friend or co-worker, has a higher impact than sharing something only on social media in the hopes that the right people will see it and share it. Bonus - if the mailer is something useful that they might save and use over and over again you will extend your brand recognition.

Beware of budgeting and boxing

Of course, some dimensional mail can cause great production challenges. It is easy to get caught up in the fun, imaginative possibilities of a dimensional campaign and forget about cost of production and postage. Mailers can integrate the latest print technologies with old-fashioned hand-assembly that can require a high-level of precision. The production of dimensional mail can also take longer than traditional flat mail.

• Almost anything can be mailed if you're willing to pay the price - first class postage, Custom Market Mail fees or high shipping rates. The USPS will mail bags, cans and drums (properly sealed and within weight and size specs) - even coconuts! You may have to pay an extra non-automation rate, but the impact may be worth it. A document bag, bank bag or sport bottle can act as both gift and package in one.

• Dimensional mail will cost more than a letter, traditional mailer or postcard, but it's not about the cost - it is about the value - the return on investment. The increased engagement that comes with dimensional mail and the increased response rates may make it worth it to you and your organization. The extra steps in making a standout package or envelope can only increase your chances of reaching your targets. In any case, sort out the details sooner rather than later, so that you might save on cost and reap a higher ROI.

• If dimensional mail isn't in your budget, consider being creative with unique envelope sizes, colored envelopes, unusual envelope windows or a teaser printed boldly on the outside of the envelope. A letter in a FedEx or ExpressMail package can sometimes be as enticing as a dimensional mail piece - and may be more affordable. One of the benefits of the FedEx or ExpressMail package is that it is immediately given importance and gets through to the intended recipient. Consider all available shipping services including UPS, Fedex and USPS. Work with your strategic printing partner to establish the size, weight, packaging and most cost effective shipping method early on to avoid custom production or other costly services that may not be necessary.

Additionally, The United States Postal Service is undergoing many changes - from the closing of 229 processing facilities to the enactment of new postal regulations. Most of these regulation changes will be effective January 2013. When it comes to being budget conscious, it is very important to be aware of the changes so that any negative impact is minimized. So, if you are planning to launch a direct mail campaign of any kind, especially dimensional, be certain to work with a print and fulfillment partner that is knowledgeable about the new regulations and can help you keep cost down.

Direct marketing encompasses a variety of tactics today and they all have their place. The customization and versatility that direct mail offers is still very effective in getting new clients into the sales funnel. Mailings are also great tactics for integrating marketing campaigns, as they can lead customers to something online, on social or even in-person. Direct mail continues to be the key component of direct marketing.

About the Author:
Deborah Simpson has been the president of Multi-Craft for more than twenty years. Multi-Craft is a privately-held marketing services and support company founded in 1955, providing strategic marketing support, creative and print services, mailing, fulfillment and database management for businesses seeking opportunity and growth in their market. Its focus is to develop solutions with measurable results and ROI for a long-term business partnership. For more information visit:


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