Mail Worries Give New Value to Old Safety Feature

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Venture Direct Worldwide has enclosed its business-to-business co-op mail packages in tamper-resistant envelopes for 15 years, but the company now plans to tout that fact on the outside of the envelopes in light of growing concerns about anthrax-tainted mail.

"The reasons we are doing this are obvious," said Rich Baumer, president of New York-based Venture Direct. "These anthrax issues have yet to have any direct connection to the direct mail industry, but we need to make it more obvious to people that the packages they are receiving are safe and tamper-resistant and contain nothing but advertising materials."

Venture Direct mails 40 million business-to-business co-op packages yearly. It uses colored envelopes that are made from a polymer material and heat-sealed at more than 250 degrees. Naperville, IL-based Solar Communications makes the envelopes.

"What we are doing now is not drastically different from what we have done in the past," Baumer said. "But now we are going to be notifying people through writing on the outside of the envelope that the package has been heat-sealed, is tamper-resistant and is safe to open."

Baumer said the mailings with the new messaging will drop by mid-month.

"The challenge for business-to-business mailers now is not how to get the mail delivered," he said. "But our biggest concern now is to make sure it doesn't get discarded once it reaches the mailroom and that it is distributed properly."

The company has not received a backlash from any of its mailings or seen response rates decrease, Baumer said, but he thinks it is too early to tell whether the scare will affect the company's mailings.

If response rates decline or negative feedback occurs, he said, Venture Direct would switch to using only clear envelopes so recipients could see the contents of the package.

"That is also something we have used in the past and would consider using it again if there were any problems that the messaging on the outside of the envelope couldn't resolve," he said. "But we are going to wait and see what happens first."


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