We all enjoy opening gift boxes during the holidays. Wouldn't it be even more exciting to unexpectedly receive a box in the mail during April or August? That's the premise behind the rising use of dimensional mailers--those boxes and envelopes with an enticing surprise inside.
One of the biggest drawbacks to conventional direct mail is that often, recipients simply discard the pieces as "junk mail." Dimensional mail pieces, on the other hand, almost always get opened, says Emily Soell, vice chairman of Chicago and New York City-based DraftWorldwide, an advertising agency specializing in direct marketing.
"The child in all of us reacts to receiving a box with the expectation that there's a gift or something special inside," explains Soell, who adds that there are four reasons to use dimensional mail, all designed to stimulate increased levels of response:
1. To send a gift. One gourmet food magazine sends a free cookbook to subscribers several weeks prior to asking for renewal. This builds goodwill and increases renewal rates.
2. To send a sample. Many com-panies send new product samples to customers they know are frequent users of their product lines.
3. To break through clutter. Soell cites as an example a promotional mailer once sent by the city of Memphis to meeting and convention planners. It consisted of a hand-addressed box wrapped in wrinkled brown paper, on which was handwritten "We found your wallet in Memphis." Inside was a real wallet and the message "Next time, why not come with it?" In the wallet were mock credit cards for accommodations and dining, with lists of hotels and restaurants on the back. A letter in the box explained why Memphis was the most cost-effective city to hold a meeting.
4. To make a point. One express-shipping company sent a box filled with what looked like shredded money, with a teaser printed on the box that read "Our records indicate that money means nothing to you." Inside, the company included an offer to ship one package for free.
Dimensional mailers do cost more, so pick a reasonable number of your best prospects and carefully qualify them prior to mailing. You can hire an advertising agency, freelance creative talent, or create your own dimensional mailers by working directly with a packaging company, such as All Packaging Company Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri.
All Packaging's president, Elliott Goldstein, consistently uses dimensional mailers to promote his firm and has received response rates as high as 23 percent--significantly higher than the average 1 to 3 per-cent response rates of conventional direct mail. Receiving a piece of dimensional mail is simply more compelling, says Goldstein: "I dare you not to open it."
DraftWorldwide , 633 Third Ave., New York, NY 10017, (212) 692-4000.