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Mailbox Monday


When is a #10 letter package more than a #10 letter package?

In direct marketing, we tend to think of standard #10 packages as workhorses. They can be effective, cost-efficient, and even beautifully written, but they're often pretty plain when it comes to art direction.

A.R.T., the American Repertory Theater, took a different approach. In their simple membership mailing, they let art direction take the lead.

The #10 closed-face envelope is just two-color, but printed on both sides with a striking red floral pattern. This achieves the first objective of any direct mail piece: to get noticed. Copy on the closed face reads "Don't keep your distance." And, a teaser on the address (and flap) side encourages us to "Open for behind-the-scenes experiences at Evita, Alanis Morisette at Boston Calling, and more ..." Finally, a live (standard) stamp adds a nice touch of tactility. (See what we did there?)

Inside, there's an 8.5 x 14" letter that picks up the floral pattern from the envelope. The personalized Johnson Box explains that if we begin a membership by giving $75 by June 30, "an anonymous donor will match your donation, dollar for dollar, doubling the  impact of your gift to A.R.T!"

The letter, however, is not from a fundraising or development professional. It's from the director of the theater's upcoming production of the musical Evita, Sammi Cannold. As promised, she gives a "behind-the-scenes" look at her creative process, writing to us from Argentina and explaining some background about her involvement with the project and what makes it unique. She doesn't ask for the membership donation again until two-thirds of the way down, when she points out three bulleted benefits of joining. After her signature, a P.S. reiterates that the donation will be matched, "doubling the impact of your gift."

The back of the letter is set up as a membership sell sheet with additional benefits and information. The red floral pattern bleeds over the  edge and appears in three places.

A response slip is attached to the bottom of the letter, in which we're given additional (higher) donation levels to consider. It also includes a QR code if we'd rather donate online. Finally, a response envelope is enclosed, and we are thanked "for using your own stamp."

That's it. Just three pieces, just two colors. But, both the engaging narrative and the unexpected art direction made the piece stand out from the crowd.

The Bs at B Direct give it a standing ovation. (And a thumbs-up.)


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