We often talk about the importance of envelopes and how they are the first hurdle to getting a prospect or customer to read your direct mail—but what if you forgo the envelope altogether? Folded self-mailers are a great way of communicating with your audience quickly and concisely in a cost-efficient manner without the fuss of a more formal direct mail envelope package.
Many verticals, including auto and telecom/MSO (multiple service operators), have had great success and return on marketing investment (ROMI) using self-mailers. But don’t be fooled—just because the smaller size is limited for space doesn’t mean they deserve any less creative thought or attention to their design. Here are five tips on crafting a self-mailer that packs a punch.
1. Use Space on Your Self-Mailer Wisely
The nature of self-mailers makes the space for your marketing message very limited—especially since a chunk of that space needs to be reserved for the address and postal markings. It’s crucial that you know exactly what you want to say and find a way to say it concisely. That means your benefits and selling points need to be easily relatable and motivating. Copywriting tactics, like appealing to emotions with stories, won’t work as well on self-mailers because there just isn’t enough room to create a strong personal connection with the reader.
Since your space is limited, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of including disclaimers that take up precious real estate with terms and conditions (and if you do include them, make sure that you’re saving enough space for the disclaimers and that they meet Federal Trade Commission regulations for font size and readability).
2. Remember—Graphics and Color Can Go a Long Way
Just because space is limited does not mean that you should forgo images or graphics. A relevant lifestyle image, product picture, or comparison chart can capture attention quickly and break up copy to add interest and dimension to the piece. Likewise, color can do a lot to solidify branding, guide the eye to important features or benefits, and create an aesthetically pleasing piece.
However, use restraint with color and graphics. Since the self-mailer is essentially a unified mailpiece (unlike an envelope package, which consists of different components like the envelope, letter, and insert), it’s important not to divide the recipient’s attention between too many elements in the little space you have.
3. Personalization is Paramount to Performance
Without personalization, self-mailers can become generic, mass-mailed pieces that have little relevance to the recipient. Including thoughtful personalization and targeting will convince your recipients otherwise. Some examples of personalization could be a map to the store nearest them, a reference to their name or a product they have previously purchased, or pictures that represent their ethnicity and family make-up. Of course, just like with any direct mail package, use personalization thoughtfully, and stay away from any “Big Brother” implications.
4. Play with Sizes, Stocks, and Finishes
Just like an envelope-based direct mail package, you can play with self-mailer weight, feel, and size to create a bigger presence in the mailbox. Advancements in printing technology have allowed us to use different textures and techniques to make a self-mailer really stand out. Some big trends I’ve been seeing are over-sized self-mailers, perforated cards, and laminated stocks. There are so many different options to play with that your best bet is to consult a direct mail strategist to help you create a testing plan and find your self-mailer sweet spot.
5. Don’t Crowd Your Space
With limited space comes the urge to crowd. We get it—your product or service is great! You have so much to offer! You’re excited about it! You want to tell everyone! But I’m urging you, use restraint.
You don’t need to include every selling point or consumer benefit. Consider your self-mailer more like an appetizer—you want to get their interest and give them a push to find out more. The best way to do that is to consolidate your best features or benefits into just a few sentences or bullet points and allow the direct mail design to capture their attention. Using white space and making sure your copy is readable is huge in accomplishing those objectives.
While we’re talking about copy, I’d also like to make a point to say that reducing your font size is not the answer to creating more space. Self-mailers with teeny tiny font sizes and those that are loaded with text and copy tend to scare readers away, and that’s the last thing you want.
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