B2B Direct Marketing – Is it the End of the Road For White Envelopes?

Unless you work in accounts and you are looking for payment cheques there is absolutely no joy to be had from receiving mail in a soulless white envelope; particularly one with a black “cheapmail” frank. You just know that it is likely to be some pointless junk mail. So why do B2B direct mailers persist with sending out their expensive promotional print in bland and unimaginative envelopes when they themselves treat their own morning mail with the same disdain?

The answer is, of course, that white envelopes are one of the cheapest options and sending via the new “cheapmail” operators saves even more money. The fact that their own B2B direct marketing looks like everyone else’s doesn’t appear to matter – just as long as it’s the cheapest option.

Hours and hours will have been spent in meetings with the design agency to get the graphics exactly right on the promotional piece. Creative types will have agonized over the text and everyone in the decision making chain will have contributed their own two-penn’orth to try to make sure that nothing has been missed. Discussions will have taken place over the paper stock. Management will have taken hours to decide on the right mailing list. You don’t want the mail to land on Monday or Friday or near a Bank Holiday so when should it go out? So much time and effort will have been spent on getting the promotional piece exactly right.

And then they go and send it out in a white envelope that looks 100% like almost every other piece of mail that is going to land on their customer’s desk. Incredible!

It is well documented that what the American’s call “dimensional mail” generates a far greater response rate than “flat mail”. There is definitely a feeling of anticipation in the air when a packet or parcel arrives with the morning mail and it is quite likely that packets will be the first items to be opened and therefore gain the lion’s share of the customer’s attention. However, not every promotional mailing can be sent out as a big package – but how about making a small one?

Let’s start at the beginning. First of all, do you really want to send an A4 leaflet, folded twice and inserted in a white DL envelope? If you do then that is your choice. However, if you want those leaflets to be read by your customer then you need to think very carefully about what you really need to send.

There are lots of alternatives to leaflets. Promotional pocket media products are a very good example. Z Cards took the world by storm when they were introduced some 15 years or so ago, giving birth to the pocket media revolution. The genre is even more popular today with many more ingenious designs on the market in the UK. Well known products such as Starburst folds, U Cards, Hidden Books and Foldilocks Cards all provide an excellent alternative to an A4 leaflet or you might just want to produce a pocket sized booklet.

Whatever your choice or promotional product, it has to be better than a plain old A4 leaflet. But how to send it is the next question. Well, how about getting your agency to design a custom made mailing pack. Maybe something the size of a CD case would be a good idea so that it would seem like something interesting when your customer comes to open it. I realise that it seems like an expensive option but as your other method has a very good chance of going straight in the bin that just seems like throwing money down the drain.

Your agency can design a pack but there is no need to go overboard as something dead simple like a sleeve with a slide-out tray will do the trick. Most printers will be able to make this for you but if you need to see examples, one company in the UK, Whitney Woods Ltd, is already offering this service and features photos and videos on their website.

Sending out your promotional mail in the form of a small pack will dramatically increase the chances of it being opened in a positive manner. Making your literature pocket-sized and with an interactive element will help your promotional piece to pass the “3 second test” and should ensure that the mailing has a much greater chance of success than the original option.

In B2B direct marketing, maybe the fate of the white envelope is sealed!