The b direct logo Hive

Mailbox Monday


As direct mail marketers, our job one is to get noticed and get opened. There are lots of different ways to accomplish this: develop intriguing teasers, promote a special offer, serve up a solution to a problem, appeal to the heart or the head (or the heart and the head). There's another way to get a mail package noticed and opened, which is trickier.

You can design your package so it looks like it's official and, officially, coming from someone else.

We've all seen the faux FedEx packages or gotten excited because something looks like a check. And, yes, those pieces do get opened. But, the disappointment and lack of trust that's created often (often as in, almost always) undoes the progress you've made. It feels like a "bait and switch," and here's the thing to remember ...

People don't like to feel they've been tricked.

A package we recently received from Next, a small business insurance agency used a number of ploys to seem like something other than a solicitation from ... well ... a small business insurance agency.

The mail side of the self mailer didn't identify the sender except with an address. They did include a Massachusetts state map (most maps, by the way, are in the public domain and it's a great idea to use them when it makes sense), and an official-sounding teaser in all caps: "STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS BUSINESS LIABILITY AND RISK INSURANCE NOTIFICATION." Other messages included "BUSINESS MAIL - TIME SENSITIVE" and "RESPONSE REQUESTED." Our company name and address were in what looked like an old dot-matrix font, ugly enough to look official.

The back of the piece added more urgency for "MASSACHUSETTS BUSINESSES" with the message "INSIDE: BUSINESS LIABILITY & RISK NOTIFICATION ***** IMMEDIATE RESPONSE REQUESTED *****" A background pattern, printed assumedly  for privacy, added to the illusion that this was valuable and official. Especially combined with instructions on how to open.

The piece itself was created with a single sheet of paper, folded, sealed, and perfed so that the two sides would need to be detached before opening the top. Sent near tax time, this made the package feel like a 1099 or W2, or — better yet — a state refund. No wonder we opened it and found ...

A generic letter from an "Insurance Advisor." The letter itself is clean and organized, nicely designed with an eye-catching Johnson box, at-a-glance sidebar, and slip at the bottom with multiple ways to respond. In fact, had this arrived in a more traditional business envelope, we might have been more interested in the campaign's offer to assess our business insurance to see if we are getting the best policy for our needs.

Instead, however, we felt betrayed and more than a little irritated.

We give the package a thumbs down. In the case of this insurance marketing, honesty would be the best policy.

Pun intended.

Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

Changing the Game for College Athletes
A Matter of Trust

For creative marketing that really works, it’s time for B Direct.