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Unusual Communications That Get Uncommon Results

Production Solutions

Same as it is when decorating a house, we can sometimes get our inspiration from the craziest of places. As a “lover of mail,” I can see past the “clutter in my mailbox” and find inspiration for innovative direct mail formats and techniques throughout what some people consider junk mail. As the old saying goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s gold;” cluttered mailboxes are gold to me.

In the last DM Deconstructed, I shared formats that have been inspired by direct mail from the commercial industry that Nonprofits should seriously consider. And now for the icing on the cake… a few more format examples from the commercial sector that may be worth the little bit of extra investment they may cost in order to get uncommon results. I love these because they pack a punch because they are so out of the ordinary. But just like in fashion, too much of a good thing can go bad. These unusual techniques stand on their own two feet and don’t need much else to get the point across.

  1. The first marketing piece is a neighborhood mailer and in what better way to remember the contact information than a magnet in the shape of a band aid?! The magnet is laminated onto the postcard and easily removed. *Great for health-related charities.
  2. The next example is “Picture Perfect” – and a great example of the clarity that can be achieved with digital printing. The substrate is clear plastic so the resulting cranial imprinted image appears similar to an x-ray. White ink is applied to the text addressing areas for contrast. *Also a unique idea for health-related organizations, but why limit it to just health? The technique is so cool, anyone can try it.
  3. Another digital print application – the perfect approach to versioning without plate changes is the “University Annual Fund” mailer. (Notice, with each version of school or college, the corresponding images change). There is no cost for plate changes, only the programming charges for versioning. Printed with 4-color process, the versioning can be as robust as the variables available – including text and images. *This is such a beautiful format, and although it may not be very low cost, it is a work horse especially when you have a robust CRM database. Best suited when you want to test images/messaging to specific segments of your constituency using demographic information or information they’ve given you from their response to specific appeal subjects, etc.
  4. The next example of marketing to pet lovers is really clever. No, it’s not the 3-die cut windows or the check insert to help offset costs of keeping your pet healthy (ok, those are pretty cool too); but, it’s the inkjet personalization of the pet’s name on the outer envelope! In this example the personalization is done after insertion and so it is a matched mailing. Although a little more expensive, this technique is attention-grabbing. *You don’t only have to use “Fluffy’s” name…personalization of any type on the carrier is always striking.
  5. I’ve included this self-mailer as an example of how to elevate a simple piece to high touch. The target market is individuals with “above average assets” in need of personal insurance solutions. The outer panel looks fairly ordinary – an image of a single puzzle piece on a black background and the teaser: “Finally… a complete picture for you.” Fold back the first panel and the die cut puzzle panels invite you to continue unfolding and revealing. The square format includes a nested letter and requires a tabbed closure. (If you didn’t already know – square-shaped mail requires additional postage). *I can see this being useful to help tell a story for any charity, especially those with photos that tug at the heartstrings.

I hope these unusual commercial techniques inspire you to think outside the envelope as you plan your future mailings and certainly wish they bring you uncommon success!