Get the Fuzz Out: 10 Extremely Creative Direct Mail Ideas for Your Business

Want to make your direct mail stand out from the rest and avoid the trash can? You need to check out this ultimate list of creative direct mail marketing ideas.

Don’t listen to the rumors, folks: direct mail is far from dead.

Even with the advancement of the internet, direct mail encourages anywhere from 10 to 30 times more responses than digital forms of marketing. Regardless of how far technology has come, nothing can quite compare to the power of touch.

But that doesn’t mean any old postcard will do the trick. If you really want responses, creative direct mail is a must and these direct mail providers can help you.

That’s why we’ve created the top 10 ways to keep your mail from going into the trash.

10 Creative Direct Mail Ideas

To really grab the recipient’s attention, companies must get creative in their direct mail campaigns. Unfortunately, many businesses “make do” with a simple postcard complete with a blown up photo and some text.

But this doesn’t work. The piece has to sell itself in a way that is interesting and practically irresistible to the target audience.

It has to be creative. If it’s not, it’s going into the recycling bin.

1. Interactive Cards

Very often, marketers forget about one of the most fundamental senses humans have: touch. There’s nothing quite like a marketing ad that encourages people to touch it, move it and interact with it in order to receive a message.

These interactions form a symbolic link between the direct mail and the individual. In fact, studies find that individuals who hold merchandise are more likely to purchase it because the act of holding it encourages a psychological sense of ownership.

Perhaps it was this relationship that made Microsoft’s ad promoting Windows so effective. They embedded their envelopes in slabs of concrete and sent them to software sales staff. The accompanying hammer was used to break the concrete wall and reveal the letter inside.

Likewise, LavOnline sent fake tomatoes that individuals threw at a picture of a shirt. When the flattened tomato shrank back into its regular shape, removing itself from the shirt, the message was clear: LavOnline’s laundry service won’t leave a stain.

There are so many ideas to consider here:

  • Puzzles
  • Scratch-offs
  • Magnet-embedded messages
  • QR codes
  • Letters or cards that can be folded into a 3-D object
  • Stickers

The creative options are endless–and effective.

2. Free Gifts

Everyone loves free gifts, but the idea is to provide something that is surprising and that potential buyers will use.

Promotional advertising has the opportunity to increase brand recognition and loyalty. Keep it small enough to be held in the hand and make it something recipients will utilize often.

Freebies might seem like a waste of money, but they enhance a company’s reputation, customer loyalty and revenue if the brand name is included on the item.

Just consider 7-Eleven’s Free Slurpee Day. After giving away 4.5 million drinks, Slurpee sales increased a whopping 38%.

The more creative you are with these gifts, the better. Creative gifts that are associated with your goods or services stand out and create a lasting impression.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to make the envelope somewhat lumpy and to consider the packaging carefully. People simply can’t resist a lumpy package.

3. Folding Mailers

There’s interactive . . . and then there’s the never-ending card.

This is a simple yet effective design. With it, a new image and text appear with every fold, cycling through in an endless loop.

Not only do these designs encourage recipients to touch the mail itself, but they also allow marketing teams to utilize a broad range of messages. The curiosity about what the recipient will see next fuels them to actually engage with the mailer instead of throwing it in the trash.

Furthermore, endless folding mailers are inexpensive to create and market, making them an ideal choice for businesses.

4. Visual Effects

Fireworks make viewers “ooh” and “aah,” just like the right visual effects on letters or cards are sure to gain attention.

Coatings are especially gaining traction, as they can be used to create the illusion of anything from wood to mud spatters. This gives companies lots of wiggle room to find a coating that relays something about the product or business itself.

Effects can be used to create reflections, to distort images, to make words or pictures glow in the dark and more.

5. Pop-Ups

Even adults love pop-up picture books. If you don’t believe us, just consider the market for adult pop-up books that have sprung into the publishing world.

Pop-ups don’t have to be complicated, and their retro heritage makes them endearing and fun to practically every age. Marketers can even integrate cell phone use and QR codes to make the pop-ups more interactive and realistic.

If you want something jazzy and fun, a simple pop-up card goes a long way.

6. Audio

We can’t forget about one of our other senses: hearing.

Nothing draws attention or surprise quite like a burst of sound upon opening a mailer. But at the same time, you don’t want to annoy the viewer.

Instead, consider a more subtle approach. Sound doesn’t have to include a narrator. It could be a natural noise, like rain patters, or perhaps a well-known song.

If a narrator is used, make sure the message will resonate with the customer or that the voice is from a person the customer will recognize.

Aside from audio, even video is making its way into direct mailing campaigns. This choice is on the pricier side, but it’s a route a few companies take. It’s an easy way to stand out from the crowd.

7. Texture

It’s time to break out the fuzz and glitter. Research proves time and again that humans like certain textures.

If it’s soft or smooth, humans get a certain sort of pleasure from touching an item. Jagged and sharp items, however, have more negative responses.

Textures are so strong an element they even influence our moods. It’s why, on a bad day, we want to snuggle in bed under a soft blanket.

In the marketing world, textures offer a plethora of possibilities.

Paper can be made to feel like glass. Cloth samples can be utilized to demonstrate superior quality. Pearlescent shimmers can make your message shine.

Whatever the goal, identify the mood you want customers to have and find the texture to suit it.

8. 3-D Printing

3-D printing has opened an entirely new arena for print marketing. No longer are companies restricted to two dimensions to get their message across. Now, 3-D models can be affordably created and sent to homes.

3-D printing also allows personalization. Instead of relying on manufacturers to create large batches of the same item, businesses take it upon themselves to make whatever they see fit and vary it accordingly.

Furthermore, the blueprints for these items can be electronically sent to other businesses in the network, cutting delivery costs. And now, businesses can even print their own mailing labels using services like the one offered at this company.

Sure, dimensional mailers are a tad costly. However, studies demonstrate they have a higher response rate than traditional mail. In fact, responses are around 8.5%.

Simply put, people open them and they won’t soon forget about it.

9. Hidden Messages

Everyone loves a good mystery, and if you utilize this in marketing, you’re bound to get more attention.

Instead of giving your message outright, leave it up to the recipients to “decode” it using your directions.

Perhaps the mailer needs to be put together a certain way for the message to become clear. Maybe it has to be held under a certain light. Whatever it is, this provides a fun and entertaining way to share your message.

Just make sure the final outcome (the message) actually pays off.

A great example occurred in 2009 when Advertising Agency Duval Guillaume in Belgium sent out direct mailers to market World Water Day. The blue card had a simple instruction at the top informing the recipient to hold it under water. Only when it was held beneath water could the message be read.

10. Smells

What’s that delicious smell? No, it’s not cookies in the oven. It’s a scent attached to the card you just got in the mail.

Humans can sniff out at least one trillion different scents, and yet this is one of the five senses that is vastly underrated. It shouldn’t be.

Smells stick with us. We remember 65% of scents after one year whereas we retain only 50% of visuals after a few months. Even more importantly, 75% of our emotions are triggered by smells.

There is even a museum in England that pumps scents into the building so visitors know what it would have smelled like in the Viking days.

If you want to stand out, consider fraternizing with your customers’ noses.

Dive into the Business World

Mailers and direct marketing campaigns are far from over. Although digital media has made quite a splash in business, the traditional use of paper and the US Postal System are still alive and thriving.

However, for direct marketing tactics to work, entrepreneurs must know how to grab attention and make their message relevant. That’s why creative direct mail is a must.

Then again, every marketing team needs the right tools. Whether you’re going the digital route or using traditional media, check out our list of the top seven affordable marketing tools.

It’s time to wow some customers.

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