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Stop Paying for Someone’s Garbage: How to Create Effective Direct Mail Marketing Campaigns [VIDEO]

worry stone in wall display

Despite the fact that, as a marketing channel, direct mail has been declining in popularity for over a decade, for many of you reading this direct mail probably remains a large percentage of your marketing budget. I'm not here to criticize direct mail marketing, but the reality is that most of it goes straight into the trash.

Not all is lost, though. It is possible to create something that disrupts expectations and cuts through the buy-one, get one clutter. Let's walk through an example of what these disruptive pieces look like, and the work that goes into creating them:



Bob Ewing:

Hi, everyone. I’m Bob Ewing, art director at Element Three, and today I’m going to talk about the evolution of direct mail marketing.

Think about when you check your mailbox. It’s always full of better insurance rates, credit card ads and coupons, right? The truth is most of it never gets read or used and just ends up in trash or recycling.

For many companies, direct mail is a huge chunk of their marketing budget. And even though it’s a traditional method of increasing business awareness, most of it goes unnoticed.

Successful direct mail campaigns effectively answer four main questions:

  • Who’s your audience?
  • What is your offer?
  • How does it matter? and
  • How do you get noticed?

That fourth question, "How do you get noticed?" is crucial. Today it’s about winning through disruption. You have to get noticed. It’s about breaking through that buy-one-get-one clutter and coming up with something that’s truly eye-catching and powerfully relevant.

I’m going to show you a recent direct mail campaign that we recently did for a client of ours that really embraces that idea of disruption.

This is the government audit survival kit. In this particular case, our client came to us and said if he could just take his potential clients to dinner, he has no doubt that he could win them. So we came up with an idea of how could we make that high-quality impression and actually spend less money and less time than him traveling to different cities to actually take these people to dinner.

In this case, this is a highly targeted direct mail campaign and it’s all built around the stresses that come with winning a government award. We really wanted to show our client’s personality in this piece, so some of these things are kind of witty and funny and really drive home the idea that your CPA might not be qualified to do the job.

We really wanted to make the entire survival kit an experience. So it starts with the belly band that says “Are you prepared?” It really asks the potential client a question that says “Government awards come with government audits." We did a monogram of the wax seal that helps seal the belly band, which really drives home the first initial message of the box. And hopefully helps hold the lid on.

Full solid-wood box, laser engraved logo, slide top. Here are the components of the survival kit. They’re all built to hold three fully custom pieces that can drive home the idea of the stresses that can come with a government award - because if you win a government award, you’re going to get audited.

All of these are custom screen-printed and copper foil to really drive home the quality of our client’s brand and the quality of his service. The first piece is this CPA test. It’s kind of a play on flashcards. As a kid, you can remember learning something new; this has a little bit different take for you to ask your CPA if he’s qualified. Not all CPAs have the knowledge to get you through a government audit.

A custom audit headache relief. We did not send our client aspirin; these actually have tic-tacs in there, so it’s kind of a fun way to play up that headache relief, that our client can offer headache relief.

“Are you in hot water?” Some chamomile tea bags. Chamomile tea is often a stress reliever. And then finally it ends with this worry stone, the idea being that this is one way of handling the stresses of a government audit. And then our client’s name is the other, the actual way to handle it.

This is a perfect example of a disruptive direct mail campaign. It tells a story. It has personality. It exudes our client’s quality of service and of their brand. Thanks for tuning in.

Do you have any examples of direct mail marketing pieces you've used to disrupt expectations? Or horror stories of direct mail budgets that have went straight to the landfill? Send them to marketing@elementthree, and we'll share a few more of our own tips for creating and running an effective direct mail campaign.

Bob Ewing Team Photo at Element Three

Bob Ewing isn't just a designer – he's a nationally-renowned lettering expert, illustrator, and graphic designer—plus, if you ever need a door or a window installed he's your man. And since joining us here at Element Three, he's won a national Addy, so he's pretty darn good at the designing as well.