Creative content maximizes direct mail

Marketers squeeze maximum impact from their multidimensional and nontraditional shaped mailers with targeted creative packages. Our experts explain successful strategies using unique mail pieces

Sarah Gutz
Commercial printing segment marketing manager, Americas, HP Graphics Solutions Business

Multidimensional mailers help marketers extend their creativity and expand their ability to generate response in ways others often never imagine.

In HP’s case, a 2009 multidimensional mailer proved critical to reaching an important, albeit potentially difficult-to-reach, target. Not only was it an audience of prospects who were not necessarily receptive to past marketing efforts; they were also prospects who could probably be considered immune to all but the most dynamic direct mail efforts.

The decision to choose a multidimensional piece came up when HP and one of its agencies, Publicis, developed a competitive marketing campaign promoting HP Indigo digital presses. In this case, multidimensional mail provided a distinct advantage in marketing to an otherwise tough audience: print service providers (PSPs), many of which were lettershops in their own right.

HP had a two-part campaign featuring a large tube mailer as well as a dimensional mailer with a content sleeve and pop-up components. The dimensional piece included sample HP Indigo press sheets, brochures, case studies and a full set of compelling offers.

The design also helped HP emphasize the core value of what it was selling — HP Indigo presses and their ability to produce versatile, offset-quality variable-data printing.

The mail piece provided particularly strong evidence that the presses, which use liquid inks instead of dry toners, can yield high-quality prints that can be diecut, folded and otherwise shaped without damage (“cracking”) to the printed surface – something that’s not a given in the dry toner world.

The campaign went to US prospects for HP Indigo press sales, and included personalized URLs on the mail pieces, cover letters, press sheets, brochures, the offer page and the personalized website. The campaign generated a response rate several times larger than the 1% or 2% that would have been expected from a campaign that did not use personalization.

Learn from past efforts and tailor a mail piece to the right audience

Jared Tanner

VP of marketing,

The whole point of multidimensional mail is to get noticed and to get your recipients to open or read the piece you’ve sent them, which leads to an increased likelihood they will respond.

The key question with multidimensional mail is, “Does it pay off?” It definitely costs a lot more to produce and mail a package than it does a postcard, so will the (presumed) increase in response offset the additional costs? At, we use multidimensional mail for specific, targeted efforts, and we’ve seen solid results. However, when we venture away from very specific, highly defined targets, our costs compared to response lift quickly gets out of balance.

Our multidimensional mail efforts led us to test other ways to get noticed in the mailbox, but still take advantage of lower production and postage costs. A new version of a multidimensional mailer we created is what I call the “visual dimension” — quite a bit different than the “physical” multidimensional mail. What I’m talking about is adding special printing effects, such as die cuts, colored foils, unique folds, embossing, etc., to flat postcards. This allows a marketer to stand out while still optimizing postage costs.

We created a series of postcard mailers where each featured a custom or special printing effect. These postcards were mailed to prospects, and the results were impressive. We have seen an 18% increase in response over our standard postcard control. Granted, there is an additional cost to add these custom effects to our postcards, but even when you factor the increase into the equation, at our company, we’re seeing a 10% increase in profits.

Consult your printer to see what special effects are available, then work with your designer to create a piece that grabs attention and hopefully grabs more response.

Multidimensional pieces cost more and work best in targeted campaigns

Christy Coffey

Marketing manager, FirstCom Music

For multidimensional mail, you want to create something that genuinely communicates your ideas, engages your audience and motivates them to your call to action.

There are a lot of direct mail options available that are fun, but it’s important to design something that effectively communicates your message. Creativity is everything!

How you employ creativity depends on your objectives. Frequently, our direct mail includes premium items that tie to our campaign or product promotion. Recently, we sent out a series of mailers to promote our website. Each mailer played off the previous mailer with messages that were crafted to correlate with a user’s experience at All of the insert cards featured the same circle die cut, which fit over the top of our various premiums to reveal our logo. The first to deploy was what we call our “music button,” with a card that read “Real Music. Real Easy.” The music button was a USB-driven button that activated the consumer’s Web browser and directed them to our website. These were a huge hit.

This was followed by a very fun glitter ball that was roughly the size of a softball, with a card that read “Real Music. Real Fun.”

The third in the series was a circular tin of multicolored Jelly Bellies, with a card that read “Real Music. Real Variety.”

The results were overwhelming. Clients, as well as our affiliate offices, called wanting to know if they could have more of these mailers. More important, the call to action was effectively received and increased our online traffic. The creative continuity of this campaign made our direct mail efforts pay off. The added creativity of the premium items ensured that the piece didn’t get lost in the mail shuffle.

Our direct mail campaigns often have different goals, such as to drive traffic to the website, inform clients and prospects about new products, or to announce events and trade show activities. If you can add something a little unique to the mix, you’re more likely to evoke curiosity in the recipient where they’ll say, “I need to see what that is.”

Create mailers with compelling creative for a ‘must-open’ response

Barbara Alba

Marketing services manager, Technology Sales Resource Interactive

Like any advertising or marketing initiative, creative is the most important aspect of multidimensional mailers. You need to have a powerful and intriguing message that will entice the target recipient to open the mailer.

With one-dimensional mailers, the message is right in front of the recipient, but with multidimensional mailers, there is a two-part process.

The first part is the invitation, or the lure, on the outside, then something on the inside that is unexpected.

Multidimensional mailers are definitely more expensive than a flat postcard. I use them in a b-to-b environment targeting a client worth several thousand or hundreds of thousands of dollars to a company. A marketer isn’t able to use it as well for inexpensive, consumer-directed products.

However, it’s highly effective for the luxury car market. It also works well for a 55-andolder community, as well as for products in the business-to-business sector.

B-to-b marketing can be boring, and multidimensional mailers add an element of surprise if marketers have an interesting, creative approach that stands out. In one case, we used a frog on the cover of a mailer and said that the frog was wrong. When the recipient opened the mailer, it read, “It is easy being green” and explained how to reduce printing-related expenses and what  the environmental benefits were.

Multidimensional mailing is unique; it is different; it is eye-catching. In a b-to-b arena, so often products are sold through webinars and PowerPoint presentations, and there are very few traveling salespeople anymore. In this environment, direct mail can cut through the noise and have significant impact.

I do a lot of b-to-b marketing, and many companies take themselves too seriously by thinking that if they do something creative and offbeat, it will take away their credibility. The result is that there is a lot of boring copy. Multidimensional mailers can shake things up a little bit if they are done right.

Multidimensional works well in b-to-b and luxury markets

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