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How to Stand Out in the Mailbox: 4 Things to Consider

Understanding how to stand out in the mailbox is more important than ever in 2020 and beyond, especially so because of today’s competition for consumer attention. In fact, a 2015 study said the average American is exposed to anywhere between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day. That’s madness!

With the large majority of these being digital ads, this provides a huge opportunity for direct mail and print marketing campaigns. Though the average person’s mailbox is much less crowded now than it has been in decades, this competition for consumer attention is more fierce than it has ever been.

That’s why when it comes to your direct mail marketing campaign, you need to be very calculated in your approach; understanding cost, attribution, average ROI and the overall health of your house file are vital considerations that must occur with the launch of any successful direct mail program. 

There is another key function that many seasoned direct mailers forget about, and that’s making sure their piece stands out above the rest when a prospective customer opens their mailbox.

You may think that a seasoned direct mailer has this function dialed in by now. They’ve been doing a catalog the last 25 years for example, and the exact size, page count, layout, creative, etc. for each piece has become institutionalized because they believe it’s what resonates best with their customers. 

However, this is exactly the problem. 

As a catalog printer that’s been in business for nearly 100 years, we’ve seen this exact scenario play out more than a handful of times and we can tell you that when these key components all become standardized, that’s when problems can start to occur.  

Today’s consumers are highly intelligent when it comes to the purchasing process and their attention spans are short. If you feed them the same thing over and over again, you can start to see lower response rates, less website visits and even a drop in sales.

In order to combat this standardization, we’ve come up with a list of 4 things to consider in your next direct mail program to help your piece stand out. 

 

1. Sometimes Smaller is Better 

Surely you’ve heard the phrase “bigger is better” at some point or another. Well when it comes to making your direct mail stand out in the mailbox, that may not always be the case. In fact, producing a smaller catalog by changing the trim size may actually help put you on top of the stack of mail that ends up in your customers’ mailboxes.

There are a few standard options if you’re looking to downsize, including Slim Jim or digest-size. But the most important thing to consider when trying out a smaller size is in ensuring that you’re still able to get the proper message across. Otherwise you might have to consider changing your current message to fit within the size of a smaller piece.  

 

2. Heavier Cover Stocks 

You set your stack of mail down on the table and begin rifling through it. Your fingers move quickly through the annoying stuffed letters and the flimsy newspapers but then something causes you to pause. Your subconscious is causing you to pause as you feel the weight of a heavier stock. Neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman explains this phenomenon:

…consumers who read about a fictitious company on heavy, high-quality coated paper had more positive feelings about the company and understood and remembered the content significantly better than those who read the exact same content on either lighter, lower quality uncoated paper or on a computer screen.” 

By utilizing heavier paper stocks, you are creating a favorable perception of your brand in consumers’ minds. If you want to read more about Dr. Eagleman’s research on this phenomenon, we highly encourage you to take a look at the Neuroscience of Touch done by Sappi Global.

 

3. Utilize Coatings/Specialty Inks  

As print manufacturing processes continue to improve with the advancement of print technology, additional capabilities have come along with it. Coatings can be used to increase the tactile experience through things like UV Grit (rough, sandpaper feel) or Soft Touch Aqueous (smooth, soft). Anything you can do to keep the piece in hands longer is going to be a benefit to your brand.

Specialty inks are coatings’ good looking younger brother and can be used to create visually stunning covers. Specialty inks have the ability to draw attention to specific content within the catalog. You can use this to highlight your brand or perhaps a special deal that you want to jump off the page.

If you are looking for examples of brands that utilize these techniques don’t hesitate to reach out and we can send samples to get the creative juices flowing! 

 

4. Don’t Follow the Status Quo 

Finally, we want to encourage you to get outside the box a bit! You don’t have to follow the same exact format you’ve been following year after year. This is the only way you can know for sure what will work and what won’t.

Maybe your traditional holiday catalog stays the same, but you experiment with your spring piece. Testing out what we mentioned above along with different page counts, color schemes and new creative are all great ways to think outside the box and experiment with your brand.


That concludes this piece on how to stand out in the mailbox and a few of the things you’ll want to consider. Your catalog is like any other marketing channel, and while you’ll want to keep some of that brand messaging consistent, marketing is all about experimentation and finding out how best to connect with your customers. 

If you’re having a tough time accomplishing these things with your current print partner or would like some free advice for how to take your print program to the next level, please do not hesitate to contact us.