October 15, 2009

How to design bad direct mail

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , — lidia @ 2:21 pm

photo by Olga__[FR]As I’ve been signing up for industry events lately (as well as planning my big day), there’s a ton of direct mail coming through in my mailbox—and along with it, many examples of what NOT to do.

Here are a few examples of direct mail DON’Ts:

  1. No return address: who is this coming from? Why should I open it?
  2. Generic content: how does this relate to me? Why would I buy this?
  3. Poor design: this seems like a no-brainer to a designer such as myself, but apparently not everyone gets it: good design sells. 
  4. Cheap paper: if you’re spending the money on printing, please use a nice, heavyweight paper*—especially if your piece is targeted to graphic designers (we’re a finicky bunch!)
  5. No design: I’ve received direct mail that resembles an office memo, 2 pages typed and stapled together: straight to the recycling bin!
  6. Too many mailings: let’s try to save a few trees, yes? A postcard every week (or more often) is really not necessary.

*No neon shades of copy paper, please!

And now, some direct mail DOs: (i.e. pieces that make me take action)

  1. Simple yet eye-catching design and layout
  2. Well-written with content I can relate to
  3. A multi-channel campaign: a postcard followed up with a corresponding e-blast
  4. Unique format or size (folded, square, oversized**)
  5. An offer I can relate to or take advantage of
  6. A personal note or handwritten message (if you have a manageable clients, give your direct mail a personal touch)

**Make sure to check postal requirements

Don’t have an in-house team to give your direct mail the love it deserves? Work with a [insert shameless plug here] graphic designer, who can walk you through the process and help you achieve results.