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5 Questions a Designer Asks About Direct Mail Formats

Mike Dietz

Those who have ever designed direct mail before—or even those who pay attention to what’s in their mailbox—know there are plenty of direct mail format options out there. Self-mailers, #10 envelopes, snap-packs, monarch-sized pieces… the list goes on and on. Likewise, there are a lot of factors in choosing a direct mail format for your marketing campaign: cost, messaging, graphics, branding requirements, customer expectations… this list is also extensive.

So how do you narrow down which format is going to best serve your objectives and meet your marketing goals? You start by evaluating what you have, what you want, and what’s worked—and hasn’t—in the past.

Five Considerations in Choosing a Direct Mail Format

There are five major questions that need to be answered before a format can be selected:

  1. What goals are you trying to accomplish? Is this an acquisition or loyalty mailing? What are you trying to convince the recipient to do, and how do you want them to act on the offer? (In other words, what’s your call-to-action?)
  2. Who are you mailing to? How large is your audience? Have you mailed to them before? What kind of data do you have that could be used to pinpoint the messaging and add personalization?
  3. What is your budget? Can you afford to spend money on unique formats, stocks, finishes, or other attention-grabbing devices?
  4. How much space do you need to convey your message? Does this product or service take a bit more of an explanation, or is it pretty apparent why the recipient needs it? Are there any disclaimers or other items that need to be included?
  5. Have you done any past mailings? What were the results, and what can be taken away from those results?

Once these questions have been answered, the format choice can be narrowed based on what technology fits the personalization and budget needs of the campaign.

A Direct Mail Designer’s Next Steps

This process of elimination is a good first step, as it takes out what you can’t do from the list of choices, but it still doesn’t answer the question of which format is best for this particular campaign. As a direct mail designer, I continue to ask questions, including:

  • What are the recipients expecting to see? Are they expecting a mailing from you? Have you sent them communications before? What did they look like?
  • What kind of experience do you want for your audience? How do you want your brand perceived? Is this an important document that should be seen as more formal, or can it be more colorful and promotional?
  • What other marketing campaigns are being done? Should the mailing complement an email or other direct marketing campaign for an omnichannel experience?

The answers to these questions help my team and me pinpoint which formats are best suited to the needs of the campaign. Knowing which formats will best lend themselves to different responses comes from years of testing, research, and experience, which is why it’s so crucial to let a subject matter expert help you choose not just the format, but all the other details like stocks, colors, die cuts, windows, etc., that make the direct mail design complete.

To find out which format you should be using for your next direct mail campaign, contact me today.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2019/03/06/direct-mail-format-design/
Mike Dietz

Author

Mike Dietz

Executive Creative Director, graduate of St. Cloud State University and IWCO Direct team member for more than 17 years. Personal business philosophy: “Beautiful design is fantastic, but if it doesn’t work it doesn’t matter.” Proud father who enjoys spending time with family, golfing and is a life-long Minnesota Vikings fan.

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