Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dear Befuddled Customer

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do your direct mail production. But we need a bit more clarity from you as to what you truly want.

You say you want your packages to be personalized. That’s why we’ve been inkjetting your recipient’s name and address on the envelope and on the letter. We’ve even used a blue handwriting font on the envelope occasionally to boost the personal touch.

But then you say you want to save money. So that’s why we suggested using First Class Presort, Standard, or Non-profit rates as appropriate. These presorted rates save you 10 cents, 20 cents, and 30 cents respectively per letter mailed. They do require a barcode, which we inconspicuously tuck away in the far right corner of the envelope.

You say you want your envelopes opened, so we put a live stamp on them. After all, market testing shows that stamps get opened before meters, and meters get opened before preprinted indicias. If you want more of a good thing, we can put multiple stamps on your envelope.

We can put a mailer’s cancellation over the stamps, too. You see, the post office only cancels First Class mail these days (too much volume, not enough time in the day). So any envelope arriving with a cancellation mark increases the mail’s perceived importance.

You've Lost Me.But then you say you want to save money, so you want to use a window envelope.

Here is where you’ve lost me.

Any pretense of the letter being a personalized letter goes right out the window. Literally.

If you’re going to use a window, you’re going to get a barcode, whether you like it or not IF you want a presorted class of mail. Worse yet, the barcode will be on the letter, so that it can show through the window, further diminishing your efforts at personalization.

If you’re going to use a window, forget the stamps. No one’s going to believe it is a personalized letter anyway. Anyone who sees this window package is going to know it’s a bulk mailing. So there. You don’t mail your Mother’s Birthday card in a window envelope, do you?

Yes, you’ll save money because you’ll avoid several production steps, but you’ll lose the very thing you were trying to achieve in the first place: a personal one-on-one communication with your membership.

You could flip the conversation, and include a generic, non-personalized letter in the personally addressed envelope. Then we could use all the tricks-of-the-trade available to us to get your envelopes opened. But the interior would not be recipient-specific.

I can help!So you’re between the proverbial rock and a hard spot. I can see why you’re befuddled. On one hand, you want a personalized one-to-one communication. On the other hand, you need to save money.

It sounds so straight forward, but it isn’t.

You have a lot of options, but they can be mutually exclusive. Short of changing your format to a postcard or a flyer—both of which have obvious limitations—you’ll have to compromise somewhere.

Please let me know how I can help “de-fuddle” you.

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