Friday, April 14, 2006

Shocking Direct

What’s old is news again – especially in direct mail.

The much lauded Halloween Mask Mailers created by illustrator Chris Lockwood and Richard Laurence Baron (me) are hot items again, since Martha Justice, President of The Premier Company, was written up in the Houston Business Journal last week. The
article by Thora Qaddumi talked about a number of creative direct mail formats, which Premier uses and in some cases pioneered.

One of these outstanding ShapeUpTM mask mailers appears above. There’s a ghoul and Frankenstein’s bride too. I had a hard time picking which one to show you hear – not because they aren’t terrific every one; but because they’re largish files. In fact, though you can easily see why Chris is such a superb illustrator, you probably can’t read my equally expert copy.

So e-mail me and I will send you a full set of jpegs…or ask Martha to send you an actual printed set of all four.

Thanks to Chris’s inventiveness, these die-cut mailers are all about capturing the recipients’ attention. Nobody who got the Mask Mailers has forgotten them. Some are still taped to people’s filing cabinets or pinned to managers’ walls all over this part of the world. Martha wanted to take advantage of the fact that the USPS now allows odd shapes to be mailed. Martha let us run with the concept that Halloween masks would be arresting, provocative…and really cool. I even invented the “ShapeUp” brand name for them.

Each mailer’s copy highlighted a specific area of Premier capability. I tuned the headlines to Chris’s amazing Illustrations.

The timing is perfect: what Chris and I created for Premier illustrates the precise point I made in Monday’s post about b-o-o-o-r-r-ing credit card mail packages (see below). The Masks are what creativity can do for direct mail. Anyone who discounts creativity as a driver is making a mistake – or do you want to bore your mail recipients to death?

Yes: one banker told me that a 2% response rate to the bank’s direct mail packages made the boring approach difficult to ignore – for the bank. As I said, the numbers are on their side (‘cause 2% of, say, a million pieces is a pretty big number).

Yes: Martha points out that although self-mailers are cheaper to produce, they practically never out-pull envelope-enclosed letter mailings. Golly, what if you combined the horsepower of (say) Lockwood-Baron creativity with your key message? What if you got the recipient to really pay attention to your offer?

I invite someone of you to find out – and measure the results. They could shock the boring right out of your prospects.

Thanks and a tip of the Hatlo hat to Chris Lockwood for the jpg files, and to The Premier Company for printing and mailing the mask series.

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