Attention-Grabbing Direct Mail

fsnews_directmaildebateThink back to past decades. Everything was oversized. MC Hammer was famous for his big pants. Laptops were the size of suitcases. And cell phones were like bricks. That trend toward all things jumbo also applied to marketing, where direct mail was bigger, too. Billions of flats, some measuring 17 3/4” x 12” or larger were processed by the United States Postal Service.

In 2007, emphasis went from piece weight to piece shape/size. The cost to mail flats dramatically increased, causing a drop in flat mail volume. Data from the USPS Revenue, Pieces and Weight statistics from 2007 and 2014 show that in 2007, 30.5 billion mail pieces handled by USPS were flat mailers. Compared to 2014, the number of flat mail pieces processed dropped 41 percent to just over 18 billion.

Today, just like outdated, oversized cell phones, large direct mail formats no longer fit the industry’s landscape. Thanks to new mailing regulations introduced in 2012 that organized letter mail into a number of categories including enveloped, folded self-mailer, booklets and unenveloped mail, marketers are now innovating with attention-grabbing formats that stand out because of creativity, rather than size.

Thinking Outside the Envelope
In addition to presenting special offers, sales, deals and other promotions in their mailers, successful brands are attracting customer attention and improving response rates by using heavier stocks and coatings and through leading-edge format design. The goal is to get the piece noticed, get it opened and get the recipient to the offer.

Imagine receiving an offer on a sheet of paper inside a window #10 envelope. Other than the teaser copy on the outside of that envelope or any content that may peek through a window, you are not engaged with the offer until you have opened the envelope, pulled out the material and started to read. Now imagine that same offer on a multi-ribbon mailer that unfolds in a unique way, revealing your offer through multiple steps. Open the flap to reveal a headline beneath the flap and a die-cut in the pocket to show the offer on the components. The graphics and message are united with the format to tell a story.

Lauren Haggerty is manager of the design innovation team - direct marketing at Quad/Graphics. Reach her at