Dimensional direct mail can impact performance

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Dimensional direct mail can impact performance
Dimensional direct mail can impact performance

Junk mail is just a great offer sent to the wrong person at the wrong time.

Many elements make up an effective direct mail campaign. A warm list, succinct messaging, a compelling incentive and diligent follow-up can all play very vital roles. However, an often overlooked facet of a successful direct mail campaign is the actual shape and structure of the mailer. Sometimes, adding a die-cut or an extra fold can help your piece break through clutter and past gatekeepers. If your budget can support a dimensional format, your response rates can soar upwards of 8.5%, versus the traditional 3.42% for flat mail, according to the DMA's 2010 Annual Response Rate Report.

Oftentimes, clients choose to forego dimensional and spend their budget on priority envelope delivery. First, you are sacrificing prime exterior real estate for communicating your message by using a pre-printed envelope. Second, you are borrowing equity from another brand (i.e. FedEx or UPS) rather than allowing your own brand to shine. And third, I often wonder if people feel taken advantage of after receiving direct mail in this manner. They open their package thinking that something urgent waits inside, only to find out that they're just being solicited. So, I often urge clients to skip this approach and put their budget towards a breakthrough dimensional piece that can help bring a message to life.

At Jacobs Agency, we believe that dimensional mail should have purpose and utility. Innovative mailers let structure and/or mechanics help tell the story. For instance, a piece we developed for the Microsoft Business Intelligence (BI) campaign allowed the sides of a square box to fall open once the lid was lifted off. This format physically represented the flattening that takes place within an organization once information is permitted to flow freely. We offered a free Zune for recipients who took a meeting. The incentive, paired with the shape and structure of the piece, reinforced the business value of Microsoft's BI solution and garnered appointments from 7.5% prospects!

As another example, Jacobs Agency was tasked with generating interest in and leads for Hewitt's outsourcing HR model for mid-market businesses. Hewitt's solution had business value because it was customizable and scalable so as to work for an organization of any size. This story inspired us to design a dimensional mailer that looked like a shoe box in order to visually showcase how Hewitt's solution is the “perfect fit” for its customers.

Dimensional direct mail can really help support your message. For Avanade's Enterprise Architecture Planning solutions, we learned that the target audience was in the habit of “duct taping” quick fixes for issues in their IT infrastructure, versus proper planning. Jacobs Agency designed a mailer that was covered with pain point messaging wrapped in duct tape. A roll of duct tape inside the box served up Avanade as the solution to get out of the “quick-fix” habit. This effort drove sales engagements that were more than an 800% ROI.

As a final example, dimensional design played an important role in the Unified Communications mailer we developed for Microsoft. For this piece, we chose a box that looked like a mini-suitcase. The shape of the mailer reinforced the idea that the members of an ever-growing mobile workforce need their “office” to be as mobile as their job.

While dimensional direct mail is more costly than traditional postcards and letters, when combined with the right list, a compelling incentive and the appropriate follow-up strategy, it can lead to a greater ROI with a fuller, richer sales pipeline and boosted brand awareness.

Flora Caputo is executive creative director at Jacobs Agency

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