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Get Your Direct Mail Noticed

Take your marketing into the next dimension with dimensional mailers.

Q: We're having a hard time getting our message through to decision-makers in select companies. We send direct mail, but it doesn't seem to reach the right people and our response rates are fairly low. What do you suggest?

A: If you want to make sure your next mailing gets opened, put it in a box. All kinds of dimensional mailers--boxes, tubes and just about anything that isn't flat--grab the attention of recipients and are virtually always opened. Think about how much fun it was to open presents at holiday time, and it's easy to understand why boxed mailings to business-to-business prospects are so successful.

Dimensional mailers are great at getting your message past screeners, such as receptionists and assistants, and are rarely discarded as junk mail. When cleverly executed, they capture and keep the attention of your prospect for longer than other "flat" mail. They can help you stand out from your competition. And with some marketers reporting response rates of 25 to 50 percent or even higher from dimensional mail, it's hard to argue with success.

Probably the biggest challenge is deciding what to put inside your box. You can use a promotional product or create a package that makes noise, plays music, flashes lights when opened, has moving parts or simply makes your point in a fun, creative way. Software maker Aprimo Inc. sent a boxed mailing to business prospects that included a wooden train with tracks accompanied by literature headlined, "Wondering how to keep your organization on the right track?" The trains carried stick-on labels with the Aprimo name and were attractive enough to be displayed on an executive's desk. This helped ensure recipients would be receptive to a follow-up call from the company.

The only drawback to dimensional mail is its per unit cost, particularly if you have the pieces custom fabricated. But if you have a small target group of top prospects that represent significant sales potential, the high per unit cost is largely irrelevant. The key is to reserve your dimensional mailings for well-qualified lists. If you rent your list instead of developing it in-house, you may need to make multiple calls to each business to make sure you've pinpointed the correct recipients for your mailing. At Aprimo, staffers make as many as 10 calls to a targeted business before a dimensional mailer goes out.

Dimensional Mail Tips

To make your own dimensional mail campaign a success:

  • Keep the tone and content of your mailing consistent with your company or brand image. And be sure to use your company colors and slogan or positioning statement as well as your name and logo in the package.
  • Make your mailing part of a cohesive campaign. While your promotional hook should be tied to a specific theme or offer, the mailing should also relate to your larger marketing message.
  • Clearly label your dimensional mailer. Heightened security precautions, particularly in large companies, may cause a poorly labeled or "mysterious-looking" package to be set aside or discarded.
  • Follow up by phone one to three business days after your mailer has been received.
  • Include a call to action that has recipients do something, such as visit your Web site for an additional gift or extra bonus.

You can hire an advertising agency, independent 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. To find the right promotional product to include in your dimensional mailer, visit the site of Promotional Products Association International , where you'll find a searchable database of advertising specialty companies.

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.
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