Why 3D and 'Lumpy' Mail Gets Such
Great Results in Any Marketing Campaign for Any Business
What is 3D Mail?
When it comes to 3D Mail, 3D says it all. A regular envelope has length and
width, but very little depth. 3D Mail has length, width and depth. It can be
an envelope with something in it that makes it 3 Dimensional. It can be a
box, or a mini garbage can, or a bank bag, a message in a bottle, a treasure
chest, or one any one of thousands of items.
Why Does 3D Mail Get Such Huge Returns??
What would you do if you HAD to make your next mailing work? What if you
could only mail ONE letter and if you didn't get a response you would, quite
literally, be beheaded?
- Gary Halbert
Why does 3D Mail get such huge returns for those who use it? First and
foremost, do you really care why it does? Every great direct mail guru will
tell you it really doesn't matter why anything you test works, what matters
is testing one scenario versus another and using the one that perform
better... and we've never heard of a direct mail expert who doesn't advocate
at least testing 3D Mail.
If Your Mail Doesn't Get Opened and Read It Can't Be Successful
One of the biggest advantages of direct mail is how easy it is to measure
and test one campaign versus another and measures your response rate and
your ROI. The fact is we've never seen a single test in which 3D Mail didn't
increase the response rate. The question then becomes, does the improved
response warrant the extra expense. With that said, let's continue with our
discussion of why 3D mail outperforms the same mailing without the 3D item.
It Cuts Through the Clutter
Because people are overwhelmed with amount of advertising and marketing they
see today, it is absolutely imperative that you cut through the clutter and
boredom and give your prospects or clients something interesting and out of
People are so overwhelmed, that they often spend 3.5 seconds or less with
information they've requested! If you can't keep your message in front of
your prospect, you're done. If you think that's bad, some studies show that
business recipients throw out 48% of their unsolicited mail without opening
Any message that isn't opened can never be acted on. When an envelope shows
up with something inside - 3D - your client or prospect MUST open it. They
simply have to know what's inside.
If a Stack Doesn't Stack, It Can't Be a Stack
Whether you're at home or at the office, we all get a stack of mail every
day. One sure fire way to cut through the clutter is to make sure your
mailing piece ends up on the top of the stack.
If your mailing is in a regular envelope it can end up anywhere in the
stack. But what if your mailing piece is in a box? Or, what if your mail
piece is in a mini-trash can? Or what if your mailing is in a real Vinyl
Bank Bag? Or what if you mail a 'Message in a Bottle.' Or what if your
mailing is in an envelope with a bag of shredded money inside so if it gets
put anywhere other than on the top of the stack the stack will fall over? 3D
Mail has to be on the top of the stack or the stack will fall over! Neither
the mail man, nor the mail room, nor the receptionist can stack a stack that
3D Mail Has Sticking Power
Let's face it, most days nothing different, nothing worth talking about
happens either at work or at home. So a mailing that is different,
innovative, and maybe a little humorous ends up being talked about. 3D Mail
has sticking power. People show it to their spouse, neighbor, friend or
coworker. And... Shhhhh... Don't Tell Anyone this Secret...Two or Three or
Four is Lots Better than One!
Those of us who produce conferences, boot camps, seminars, and conventions
have a secret we don't tell you.
Shhhh.... Sales go up when more people from one organization hear about your
offer. That's why when you get invited to a conference or seminar there is
always a discount for the second person.
It happens all the time. When two people see an offer, one may decide to not
to take advantage of it. But the other person sees the possibilities. So
they start talking about all of the things they and you could do.... And you
make a SALE!!!
The same thing happens with 3D Mail. The recipient shows it to their
coworker, or spouse, or friend just to show them how cute it is and the
other person starts talking about the actual offer and your sales increase.
Another Reason That Two or Three or Four is Lots Better Than One
But what if the recipient shows it to another person and they don't talk
about and brainstorm ideas. You know it's not too bad to send out one
mailing and have 2, 3 or 4 people read it.
But Doesn't 3D Mail Cost More?
Sure, 3D Mail will normally cost more than a mailing that is not 3D, but not
all the time. But are you really interested in what the mailing costs or
what your return on the mailing is versus the cost? If I need to convince
you of that, you really should be interested in the results rather than just
the cost (Your Return on Investment); you might as well go do something else
In almost every instance, the results from 3D Mail are a better Return on
Investment than the same mailing without the 3D item.
In addition, we highly recommend that you send laser targeted, clutter
busting mailings, multiple times, rather than sending out more pieces of
untargeted, non-3D mail.
In this case, less truly is more.
If you're on a marketing budget (and who besides Nike, McDonald's and
Microsoft aren't on a marketing budget), we've never seen a case in which
multiple 3D mailings to a smaller list hasn't outperformed one boring,
same-as-everybody-else mailing to a large list.
3D Mail Can Also Be Used As A "Freemium"
A freemium is a 3D premium gift that is delivered FREE, in the mail, up
front with no obligation. (Example: FREE pen enclosed).
When you send somebody something of value for free, their human instincts
kick in. They feel obligated to at least give your mailing their time. They
feel obligated to take you up on your offer. They feel obligated to respond.
Sending a freemium cuts the clutter, motivates the prospect to respond,
actively involves the reader. It has staying power.
Now, with all that being said, here's one caveat. No matter how great your
3D mailing, or your copywriting abilities, or your offer is, they all mean
nothing without the proper list. If you don't have a good list, you don't
have a good mailing. If you're trying to sell sandals in Nome, Alaska in
February, you're probably not going to do well because it's the wrong offer
to the wrong group.
Here Are Just A Few Things That 3D Mail Can Do For You
Increase The Size of an Order
As we talked about earlier, 3D mail can often be used as a freemium, a gift
you give the prospect with no obligation on their part. However, this
inexpensive free gift can be used to give wafflers or fence sitters the last
little push to take you up on your offer.
Here's another tip to increase the size of your order. Offer another free
gift that complements the freemium you previously sent when they place their
order of a certain dollar amount. This will give many new clients the added
reason to increase their order size!
We all know how hard it is to get new clients through a cold mailing. As
Bill has pointed out in this book, it's extremely important to stand out
with your advertising. 3D Mail does that. It is not unusual for your
prospects to be so amazed with your mailing that they actually call to find
out where you got the idea! Talk about cutting the clutter!
One problem any business runs into is return rates. This is also called
buyers remorse. After the initial purchase you can send follow up 3D
mailings (often called a 'stick' campaign) to reinforce the purchase your
client has just made.
But why would you send 3D mail when you can send regular mail? For all the
reasons we've already outlined. Remember, if a mailing doesn't get opened,
it can't be read or acted upon. It is every bit as important, if not more
so, for your follow up marketing to be open, read and acted upon, as your
initial mailing to get the order.
Reactivate Lost Clients
This is where 3D mail can really get fun, and profitable! Lost clients are
those clients who made a purchase from you at some point, but have not
bought again over a defined period of time. This period of time of course
varies by industry. If you're a car salesman, it may be 2-3 years. A real
estate agent, it may be 5-10 years. If you own a restaurant, it may be 30-60
It is often reported that it is anywhere from 10 times to 100 times more
costly to get a new client, than it is to sell again to an existing client.
I believe that a 'lost' client is probably the second easiest client to sell
to (behind those clients who are continually buying from you).
A very successful 3D mail 3-step campaign we've seen done by our clients
includes a Boomerang with a headline "We Want You Back." A compass with the
headline "Are you Lost?" The third step, a small plastic bug is inserted
into the envelope with the headline, "This is the last time I'm going to bug
you!" A lost client campaign is only limited by your imagination.
Drive Traffic to a Location
3D mail can be very effective is getting your clients or prospects to come
to your store, restaurant or other retail location. One of the best ones
we've seen in driving traffic to your location is what we call a "puzzle
In this mailing, you attach a puzzle piece to the top of your letter to your
clients or prospects with the headline, "Is This the Winning Piece." In the
letter, its tells the client to bring this puzzle piece in to your location
to see if it is the missing piece to complete the puzzle you've assembled in
your business. If the piece matches, they win!
In restaurants the winner often receives a free meal for that visit, or in a
retail store they'll receive some type of Gift Certificate to redeem in the
Here's another hint. Make sure everyone is a winner, even if their piece
doesn't fit. Have some inexpensive free gifts to give anyone with a puzzle
piece who visits your location. We've also seen this work well when you send
a key in the mailing. They bring in their key to see if it unlocks the
treasure chest. If it does, they win again!
Remember when we talked about 3D mail having sticking power? Meaning that
people who receive unique 3D mail usually show others the cool mailing they
received. Before you know it, you're getting leads and sales from people you
never even sent the mailing to!
Another great way to stimulate referrals with 3D mailing is to your current
clients. One that I really like is a small boomerang inside an envelope with
the headline, "Most of Our Business Comes Back to Us From Great Customers
like You." You may want to consider offering a premium (free gift) for those
clients who do refer new clients.
Get more business with current clients
There is one big problem all businesses face when trying to get more
business from existing clients. Even though they (ought to) know you and
trust you, it's very hard to get their attention and get them to act, even
though they've ordered from you in the past.
You need to use 3D mail that demands attention. It must cut the clutter and
get though to the client. A bank bag, message-in-a-bottle, or small item
stuffed in an envelope all invoke curiosity that will get your client's
attention. It gets them involved and interacting with the mailing. This
gives you a much better opportunity to sell to them again.
Find qualified prospects at a trade show
Trade show attendees are often bombarded with pre and post show advertising.
It comes from the show organizers themselves, your company, and your
competitors. It can get downright overwhelming for some prospects.
This is a time when you have to be out-of-the-box, unique and be willing to
stand out from the crowd. A simple, standard size postcard probably won't
cut it. Be daring and stand out.
For pre-show advertising, be creative. Use 3D mail to cut the clutter and
give them a reason to stop by your booth, like a free gift or show specials.
If you're doing either, try to tie the promotion in with your 3D grabber.
For instance, if you're doing a drawing for a free trip, try sending a small
toy airplane with the headline, "We'll send you anywhere in North America
just for stopping by and saying 'Hi."
The puzzle piece mailer and treasure chest key discussed above is another
great way to drive traffic to your booth for pre-show advertising.
For post-show advertising, it's just as important to stand out. Again, you
may want to tie in your promotion from the show. But most importantly, you
want to remind that they had stopped by your booth, and now it's time to get
In addition, 3D mail can also:
• Increase the frequency of purchase
• Get more business with current clients
• Increase the size of the purchase
• Improve response to non-mail advertising
• Launch a grand opening
• Turn Prospects into customers
The possibilities of 3D mail are virtually endless!
Tips for Creating a Successful 3D Mail Program
1. Does 3D mail work for your business?
3Dmail has many uses in both consumer and B2B businesses. However you do
need to ask yourself if this is the right promotion to use. If you are in
the B2B marketing with products/services that sell for a few thousands
dollars (or totaling that after one year) or in an affluent type of consumer
product/service, then 3D mail is for you.
If you have a product or service that sells for a lower dollar value, then
the incremental cost of running a 3D mail program may not be the right fit.
However, if that product or service is consumable (like bags that retailers
use for us at American Retail Supply), and being sold over and over again to
the same client (in either B2B or consumer marketplace), then it is
appropriate for you.
2. What are your goals for your 3D mail campaign?
What do you want to achieve with this 3D direct mail campaign? Is this a
one-step sale or lead generation? Do you want to set up a phone call,
face-to-face meeting, a website visit etc?
What are you monetary goals? What kind of sales and responses do you need to
make the mailing successful? Have you put yourself in a situation where an
average response will reap huge rewards? You never want to put yourself in a
situation where amazing results are required for you to make a good return
on your investment.
3. It's about ROI, not cost, or even response rates!
It is very important to think of 3D mail sequence and campaigns in terms of
ROI and not cost or even response rate. 3D mail can cost more than regular
flat mail packages. But it's not a standard style package that gets regular
results. Some will base their budgets on the cost to acquire a new customer.
Do the math to see if you feel you can hit the optimal ROI for your
business. Remember, we put money in the bank, not response rates. The
slightly higher cost of 3D mail almost always warrants the use of it when
4. Targeting and segmenting your list.
This is a key aspect of any marketing effort, especially 3D mail. Average
copywriting sent to an extremely targeted, well picked list can get your
incredible results. Superior copywriting to an inferior list, with little or
no targeting will get you inferior results. This is true whether you use 3D
mail or flat mail. Segment your list to find biases, either demographically
or psychographically. Know your targets and know them well!
5. Make sure the copy, the grabber and the package all tie together.
Integrating the entire package (copy, grabber, package, and target) seems
simple enough but all too often the various elements are not connected. Make
sure each element of the package from the copy and graphics to your target
market and physical container are all communicating your message, especially
the 3D item. Keep the recipient of your package in mind, what their needs
are, your unique selling propositions and communicating it 3 dimensionally.
Sure you could put a wad of paper in your mailing piece to make it 3D. But
people like to be entertained. They don't like to be fooled. They're
entertained with appropriate 3D items tied to your product, service or
message. They just feel fooled by a wad of paper.
As with any form of marketing, especially direct mail, testing your 3D mail
package is a very important step. It will give you insight into your segment
and ID possible challenges or success early on, allowing you to benefit the
most from your mailing.
Many entrepreneurs' and business owners get lazy with this, especially when
things are going well. Even if you have a great winning sales letter or
campaign, always be sure to test something in at least some small way.
Change the headline. Spruce up the offer. Try a new creative piece. In any
cause, don't rest on your laurels. What once worked successfully probably
won't work forever.
7. Choose your delivery method
There are many different delivery methods available for 3D mail. The United
States Postal Service (USPS), UPS, FedEx and courier services are just a
few. The USPS, UPS and FedEx are most often the best solutions. Courier
service is saved for those very unique packages or those needing delivery at
a specific point in time. In many cases, the courier service is money well
spent. It depends on how you want your prospect to receive your package and
what's best for your promotion.
8. Multiple touches
To make a 3D mail campaign work, simply sending out the letter and the
package sometimes isn't enough to ensure outstanding results. Whether you
have sales teams make follow up calls, emails, direct mail pieces or other
forms of contact, don't forget to get those into your marketing funnel.
It's also a good idea to integrate e-mail and direct prospects to a website
or a specific page on your website. This can maximize the impact of your
package in both the 3D mail pieces and the follow up pieces you send.
Contacting your prospects multiple times over multiple different media's is
essential for direct mail success.
In addition, there is a direct mail rule that says, "If you send the same
offer with just different words a second and a third time, they response of
#2 and #3 will match the results of the 1st mailing. So, if you're first
mailing is a success, run your numbers to determine if you want to do a
second and a third.
There are literally dozens of products you can use for 3D (Lumpy Mailings;)
to get some good ideas on what they are and how you can use them, visit this
page on the NMOA website: