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Direct Mail Marketing: What’s in your mailbox?

I opened my mailbox today and decided to play a game with the mail we received at home. The “game” was to analyze each piece of direct mail.

Item 1: Happy Birthday postcard from DHC

  • Audience: Personalized micro-targeted
  • Message Strategy: Exclusive message with exclusive offer
  • Creative: 4 x 6 postcard, 4 color over 1 color

Item 2: Verizon Grand Opening postcard announcing new location

  • Audience: Targeted saturation
  • Message Strategy: Greed (This may seem like a strong word for an offer giving the first 100 customers a $25 gift card, but in forcing all messages into specific categories of emotional appeal, greed it is.)
  • Creative: 6 x 10 postcard, 4 color over 4 color

Item 3: Multi-page publication from a non-profit

  • Audience: Batch targeted
  • Message Strategy: Educational
  • Creative: Magazine, 4 color glossy

Item 4: Red Plum wrap with inserts

  • Audience: Mass mailing
  • Message Strategy: Runs the gamut of emotional appeal as I flip through the entire wrap
  • Creative: Large sheet, 4 color glossy

You’ve probably never paid that much attention to what each piece of mail is doing in your mailbox, why it is there, what the intent is, whether you were micro-targeted or part of a mass mailing. The point is that those items don’t just show up without intention and planning on the part of the sender.

In the coming few weeks, we are going to explore the nuances of direct mail and what goes into crafting an effective piece. In the meantime, your homework is to grab the mail sometime in the next few days and look at each piece. Think about why you might have been included in the audience, determine the emotional appeal of the message, and analyze the creative format. Then stay tuned as we examine each of these three key aspects of a direct mail marketing campaign: audience, message, and the creative.