Direct Mail formats

April 6, 2013
Physicians Mutual Direct Mail

Bob McCarthyDirect mail formats are too often decided by the personal preferences of the creative team. But the decision needs to be more strategic than that. Let us show you how. McCarthy & King Marketing provides strategically focused direct mail marketing programs for businesses and non-profits.


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To discuss a campaign or get a quote, call Bob McCarthy at 508-473-8643.

Choosing a format – strategically

The direct mail format is the most visible part of your direct mail campaign. It’s what everyone sees and wants to talk about. [break][break]But choosing a format should be a strategic decision, not a personal preference.[break][break]You may have some idea of what you want for a format, but that choice should be determined by:

  • your marketing objective
  • the product or service you’re selling
  • your target audience
  • your follow-up plans
  • your budget

Intuition isn’t good enough

I’m Bob McCarthy. You may have an intuitive sense of the type of format you should use. You may have your own personal preferences.

But as you”ll see below, that’s not good enough.

There are many other strategic issues to consider when making this important decision – and we can help.

Please contact me if you need help with this process.

Letter mailers vs. self mailers

It’s the classic direct mail question: Which works better – a letter mailer or a self mailer?

Ready for the answer? It depends.

Sorry, it’s just not that simple. Let me explain:

Letter mailers have definite advantages. Here are just some:

  • they look and feel personal
  • they are familiar to the reader
  • they allow you to include multiple inserts

But self-mailers also have advantages, including

  • they are graphically more interesting
  • they are not personal so they get shared more easily
  • they are cheaper to produce


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If you already have a personal relationship with your target and you want to leverage that relationship, a personal letter works better than a self-mailer.

If you a promoting a community event, a self-mailer could be seen and read by multiple people in a household.

If you are selling a complex product or service that requires extensive explanation – and you are expecting a purchase, not a lead – a letter package with a longer letter and brochure is probably your choice.

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