Deliver a New Dimension in Response

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We all know the list is the prime mover of direct mail. And the offer is close on its demographic coattails. But how do you keep the right business target, who albeit may maintain a statistically significant appetite for your hot offer, from introducing your direct mail piece to that cold metal bin beneath his desk?

Force. That is, stopping power - the mysterious force that makes him hold your mail piece just long enough to pass the point of no return. He's reading! And you've got him. Stopping power is generated by the unexpected, the surprising or the intriguing, and breaking out of two dimensions is an effective way to achieve that.

One of the toughest statistics for any marketer is that on average a prospect spends about 11 seconds interacting with your direct mail piece before deciding to read on or move on. So you better make an impression and make it fast. This is where the dimensional mailer - frequently called the paper key to a prospect's psyche - has an advantage.

One of marketing's most effective direct response tools, a three-dimensional mailer uses elements of surprise and visual impact to attract attention and convey your message. Popular tactics for differentiating brochures and mailers include pop-up features and sound chips, while eye-catching inserts with dimensional geometric die cuts and special mailing tubes work equally hard to make a first impression with impact.

Anything that isn't flat will grab the attention of your recipients and drastically increase the likelihood that the package is opened. It can be compared best to opening a birthday present or getting a surprise gift from a friend. You are happy to receive the package and instantly curious to know what's inside.

Like the majority of direct marketing efforts, dimensional mailings are effective also because they are measurable, targetable, flexible and accountable.

They can be used to cross-sell to existing clients, generate new business or raise marketplace awareness of your company and its products. Your company might use a dimensional mailer to announce new products, highlight specials and promotions or even drive booth traffic at trade shows. However, as paper, printing and postage costs climb, even more rides on a direct hit.

Maximizing your success depends, in order of importance, upon the mailing lists you use, the offer you make and the copy and graphics you create. With dimensional mailings, sometimes it's the unabashed glad-handing of a premium gift and sometimes it's an unusual shape or thud-factor, but your mailing has an immediate effect. It is differentiating and, frankly, more likely to get past the screening secretary and onto your business-to-business prospect's desk.

Once it is there, a cleverly designed dimensional piece no only will generate more response, it will increase exposure to your message. It will keep the attention of the intended recipients and is more likely to be saved and passed around.

A rule of thumb is that interactivity - pop-ups, sound chips, tabs to pull, seals to break or even scratch-n-sniffs - boosts response rates. That is why direct mail tends to have so many inserts. Response rates have proven that people will spend about the same amount of time with each item, so it is given that the more items, the more your company's messages are read and the more "dwell-time" with the package.

One challenge with 3-D mailers is determining exactly which special effect to use and how to generate follow-up from your prospective customer. Key messages should be conveyed accurately and clearly. In addition, have your logo appear prominently on the package. It is to your advantage if potential BTB customers can immediately associate the mailer with your company.

Here are other things to consider when implementing any direct mail campaign:

· Cut through customer inertia with strategies like a money-back guarantee, a brief but persuasive case history or, if appropriate, emphasize the consequences of not acting on the offer.

· When possible, create a sense of urgency or lost opportunity if the reader does not respond quickly - a limited-time offer, limited supply, buy two-get one free before a certain date, first 200 responses get a gift.

· Call to action. Now. Today.

· Lastly, follow up about a week after your mailer goes out. Your company's name and message are fresh in the recipient's mind.

The goal of any marketing vehicle remains the same: compellingly position and showcase products and services by delivering credible, targeted and persuasive messages that affect the perceptions and behavior of potential clients. Three-D adds new dimensions and opportunities to this challenge. But, like all marketing, it succeeds only to the extent that it is shaped and driven by clarity of strategy, creativity and expert execution.


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