Welcome to the “Direct Mail Bake Off”, where the team at Postalytics examines & critiques direct mail creative that we receive, as consumers or business people.
Mack Weldon takes on The New England Flower Exchange
Today’s entries involve 2 direct mail postcards designed for very different purposes. The New England Flower Exchange is promoting their Holiday Open House with a B2B 5×6 postcard, while Mack Weldon is focused on introducing their “AIRKNIT” line of underwear with a 6×9 tri-fold self-mailer to consumers.
Round 1 – Audience Selection
The first question that we always ask with respect to the effectiveness of a direct mail piece is; how strong is the targeting of the audience? Does the offer & creative make sense for the recipient?
The New England Flower Exchange’s postcard was delivered to a long time horticulturalist who lives within 20 miles of the event location. Since promotion revolves around an open house and is open to floral industry professionals only, the recipient is an ideal target for this promotion. Audience Grade: A
Mack Weldon’s tri-fold was addressed to a deceased elderly relative of a Postalytics team member. The promotion is introducing a new line of men’s underwear. While the deceased relative was male, everything else about the targeting here is wrong, for obvious reasons. Audience Grade: D.
The Mack Weldon mistake is not uncommon. Mailing lists can be purchased that are very outdated. In this instance, the relative was deceased 9 months prior to the mail piece being received.
Round 2 – The Offer/Brand Awareness
The offer, or the “deal” being promoted in a direct mail piece, is considered just as important as the audience selection in classic direct marketing fundamentals. The strength of the offer, for the audience selected, will often play a huge role in response to the campaign.
Some campaigns though, are not focused on a direct response offer. Brand awareness can be just as important of a goal, especially when there are multiple touch points planned, with later touches focused on response.
The New England Flower Exchange’s offer is for floral professionals to attend their holiday open house, for free. It’s pretty clear and likely appealing to their audience, so we’ll give it an Offer Grade: B+.
Mack Weldon’s piece doesn’t have an offer. The goal of the piece is to introduce their new AIRKNIT men’s underwear. The purpose of this particular piece is to built brand awareness for the product launch. Direct mail can be a very strong channel for building brand awareness, especially when a piece like this is a part of a multi-touch, multi-channel marketing campaign.
As such, the piece does a good job outlining the benefits of this new type of underwear, with great photography, social proof and technical features called out.
Check out how to build brand awareness while generating leads with direct mail!
The piece certainly leaves a strong impression for someone who might be interested in better, cooler men’s underwear. We will give the brand awareness effort an Grade: A.
Round 3 – Creative
The Mack Weldon piece does a wonderful job using the space of the mailer to highlight the star – their super cool underwear. The temptation to jam too much copy to sell features is avoided – the gorgeous photography and the benefit oriented copy have plenty of “breathing space”.
The only problem with the creative, in our opinion, for a brand awareness piece, is that the brand is not prominently displayed on each panel. On the cover/front of the piece, the AIRKNIT brand IS displayed via large font, effectively (see above). While it is faint, that’s part of the branding goal, to give the impression of lightness and coolness.
However, over the remaining 5 panels of the tri-fold, the AIRKNIT brand appears only twice. And, each of the times it is is displayed, it is in a tiny font that, in our opinion, leaves little impression.
That being said, the plan may be for additional direct mail touches (now made easy with automation) or other channels to carry the AIRKNIT load more. For the overall strength of the creative, we’ll give the piece a Creative Grade: A-.
The New England Flower Exchange postcard is not as well designed. It does take advantage of the opportunity to use a portrait orientation on the front (non mailing) side of the card, which is unusual and stands out (a cool feature in Postalytics). And, the image on the left side of the front, with the “HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE” call out is effective. Finally, the date of the open house is made clear, with a large font with plenty of white space around it.
Other than that though, there are several problems with the design of the piece. It really seems like the piece should have been sent using a larger format, like a 6×9 or 6×11 postcard.
The biggest issue is that there’s far too much copy jammed onto the front of the postcard. Several staffers were scrambling for their reading glasses to try to get through the piece. The impact of this on the recipient is that they’re much less likely to even read, much less absorb all of the benefits that are being outlined in the copy.
The other big issue is with the back, or mailing address side of the postcard. As you can see, there’s an image and another offer (Pre-order now for the best selection!) that have nothing to do with the purpose of the piece. They don’t feel like they were designed by the same person that did the front, they look like they were thrown on at the last minute.
As a result, there’s a ton of whitespace on the postcard back that is highlighting a difficult to understand image and 2nd offer.
The way the mailing addresses are placed on the postcard is also problematic. As you can see, the recipient address/bar code is in the center of the piece, the “Indicia” or postage payment indicator is located on the upper right hand corner, and the return address is on the upper left. (All are blurred out on the above image).
By spreading around the mailing information all over the postcard back, much of the space is rendered unusable for marketing. Contrast this with the way that Postalytics uses only the lower right side of the postcard for all mailing information.
This enables marketing creative to be used across the entire width of the top of the card, and in a full height column on the left side of the piece.
Overall, we’ll give the the New England Flower Exchange mailer a Creative Grade C.
The Winner – New England Flower Exchange
Despite the creative shortcomings, the New England Flower Exchange postcard is more effective than the Mack Weldon piece. Why? They nailed the audience with an good offer. The creative, despite some real issues, was good enough.
Overall Grade: B
The Mack Weldon mailer is beautiful, and there was a ton of effort put into the layout & design. However, because it was sent to an incredibly incorrect recipient, at least in this case, it comes up short.
Overall Grade: B-
Often, marketers are convinced that beautiful creative will carry the day, and make their direct mail campaign (or any other type of campaign) effective. However, this bake off is a great reminder that while beautiful creative can catch your eye, if the audience or offer/branding are off, it will probably end up being a wasted effort.
We’d love to get your thoughts on the two pieces – do you see them in a similar way? Tell us!