July 24, 2018 | Advice

Getting Past “The Gatekeeper”

Five smart ways to up your direct mail game.

Trash. Bill. Trash. Faster than you can set down the stack of mail, this is what you think. You can tell pretty quickly what you’re dealing with just by the type of envelope and maybe a quick glance at the return address. Make your piece stand out by empathizing with your recipient and trying these tactics to improve the results of your next direct mail campaign.

 Stop ignoring the mailing label

When faced with a stack of mail, the first thing we do is sort it out—address-side up. Whether it’s an envelope or postcard, take advantage of this space near the mailing address to make a first impression. Share your call-to-action or tease a sneak peek to keep their interest and entice them to read on.

 Make it bigger…or smaller

Not only do we sort the mail address-side up, we also like to rearrange our mail according to size. The bigger the piece the more likely someone is to take notice. Even if you’re not expecting a package or large mailer, you know you’re going to open something special with your name on it—especially if it’s well designed. On the other hand, the smaller the piece the more likely it will be sorted to the top of the stack and seen first. 

 Use better paper

At some point in print history, gloss was the new black and shiny paper was synonymous with quality. We live in a new era where glossy papers and coatings are still widely used, but they’re not as special. In fact, it’s almost the opposite. Your paper and process selection should reinforce the overall campaign message—exclusivity, eco-friendly, etc.—and play nicely with your brand. For example, to evoke that sense of high quality, consider a hefty, super smooth uncoated paper or a luxurious, soft touch coating.

 Make it lumpy

Whatcha gonna do with all that junk mail? Have you ever received one of those large car dealership mailers that have a key attached to it? The message is engaging: “come visit and try your key to see if you’ve won!” Even though you may normally throw away mail like this, you look at this one because it’s what we like to call—lumpy. By adding some weight (and thus, the mystery of what that weight is) to your mailer you add some intrigue that might make the difference between going on the table or in the trash. 

 Test it out

Finally, test your direct mail piece. Share it with someone to see how they open and engage with it. Test mailing it to see if the packaging holds up. Test peeling off tabs or ripping the envelope to ensure nothing important is lost in the process. This is the last step before letting your hard work go out into the world, so ensure that it can make the best possible impression when it finally arrives at its destination.