7 Ways You Can Use Direct Mail to Engage and Sell: Part One

Over 155 billion pieces of direct mail were processed in fiscal year 2014, and 80.9 billion of those pieces were advertising related!* Who says direct mail is dead?



Clearly, direct mail is still a very viable option for delivering relevant messages to targeted audiences…and it’s highly measurable. And let’s face it—am I the only one that’s email fatigued?

Email swooped in, took over, and poor direct mail lost its limelight. So here’s Part One of “A Trip to the Mailbox” series.


Direct Mail Does One Important Thing that Email Does Not

Direct mail can give a multi-sensory experience, engaging ALL FIVE senses. Touch. Taste. Smell. Sight. Sound. Email marketing can’t deliver a box of chocolate chip cookies to your doorstep, or send a notecard laced with the smell of sweet vanilla and a jingle, or give a recipient the experience of touching a textured letter. Right?


Let’s Talk about the Ease of Discard for Email Vs Direct Mail

If you see an email subject line that doesn’t interest you, you can delete it in 0.2 seconds.

If you receive a piece of mail, you almost always have to at least touch and review it to see if it’s a letter from, oh, the IRS, a long-lost family member, or a bill collector. You have to interact with it for a longer period of time. Even if you aren’t interested you have to walk it over or take a physical action to place it into the trash can. Or you may even keep it on your desk because there’s something just intriguing enough to not throw it away. Yes?

Think of all the things you can mail:

  • Newspapers
  • Catalogs
  • Postcards
  • Self-mailers
  • Gift cards
  • Sales letters
  • Newsletters
  • Coupons
  • Three-dimensional mailers
  • The list goes on and on

Direct mail opens up a whole world of creative possibilities to get your message seen, heard, touched, smelled, tasted, and connected with!


trip to the mailbox
A Trip to the Mailbox

I took a trip to the mailbox recently and came across a fantastic direct mail piece from, no joke, a full-service direct-response marketing agency.


What Made It Stand Out?

    • It Came Shrink Wrapped: Magazines many times are shrink-wrapped, but this 7 x 5 package arrived with a thick, clear, high-quality plastic shrink wrap.


    • The Weight of the Paper: The paper stock was similar to something you would see on a portfolio folder.


    • The First-Class Postage Indicia: Anytime I receive a piece of mail with a Bulk Rate or Presorted Standard indicia, I feel like I’m being “blast-mailed.” Is first class postage more expensive? Sure it is, but you are working to make an impression and engage multiple senses.


    • The Statistic: Statistics are powerful weapons to use in your marketing. Rest assured there is a compelling statistic that can be used for every industry if you just do a little digging to find one.


    • A “Pull” Feature: Not only was it shrink-wrapped on paper you’d see on a portfolio folder, it also had a pull feature. Looking at the front of the piece, there was a tab with the word PULL. Fun! This caused me to further engage and interact with the piece.


    • Stunning Use of Imagery: The image on the front was an elegant photo of blurred multi-colored car headlights. Not your typical photo but it worked perfectly for the piece.

What’s the Most Important Thing That Made It Stand Out? THE COPY! The importance of the message and copywriting can’t be overstated. It’s critical. On the front of the piece there was one statistic that read, “We cannot claim responsibility for Los Angeles freeway traffic increasing by 6%.” And that’s all it said! They had me…so I took it out of the shrink wrap, used the Pull feature to learn more, and then read: “But, we had everything to do with [Company Name’s] web traffic increasing by 60%.” Is that brilliant or what?

Always aim to be memorable.


Wrapping Up

Let’s make no mistake about it, while email can deliver the highest ROI of any marketing medium, I encourage you to consider the real effect of email fatigue, and using direct mail as an added medium to your marketing mix. Direct mail is a viable option for ANY product or service. The more senses you can engage, the better.


You May Also Like Four Mouth-Watering Before-and-After’s That Pack a Copywriting Punch, Part One


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