Direct mail marketing formats can first be basically divided into two categories, envelope or self-mailer. A self-mailer can be anything from a post card to an 8 ½ x 11″ sheet tri-folded, stapled and mailed as is all the way up to a catalog.
These types of mailings are what most people are thinking of when they talk about junk mail. And that is one of the big disadvantages of using these types of mailings. Many people throw them out almost immediately with just a glance.
The biggest advantage of self-mailer formats, of course, is their low cost. An envelope mailing is anything sent in a sealed envelope.
You should or at least can use the lower cost self-mailers when…..
#1: You are mailing to a list of your own established, loyal customers who will certainly be interested in your message and will read it just because it came from you. A clothing store might use a post card, for example, to inform regular customers that the new autumn fashions have arrived or that a special sale is going to take place.
#2: You are promoting a sale or other specialty event for a very well known, popular business and recipients will instantly identify the business and the nature of the offer. A tri-fold flyer might work well for a home improvement store, for example, promoting a spring fix up sale. People receiving it, who are do-it-yourselfers will probably look at it. The others will discard it and that’s okay.
# 3: If you’re tied to a very small budget.
You should try to avoid self-mailers when you are not mailing to your own customers. When prospecting for new business some type of envelope mailing is almost always more effective. Or, when you are telling a lengthy, detailed sales story.
Self-mailers need to be more like billboards than letters in most cases. People have difficulty accepting something as a letter when it doesn’t come in an envelope.
Other examples of when you should avoid using self mailers is if you are trying to get your message read by a person whose mail is probably screened, such as an executive or a doctor. Or, you need multiple pieces to properly present your offer and finally if you need to achieve an above average response rate.
There’s another very general rule of thumb; self-mailers are less acceptable and less effective in business-to-business marketing than in consumer marketing.
If you decide to use an envelope mailing you now have two other basic choices to make using what I call the billboard or the sneak up approach which I will explain in my next post.