Direct Mail (That Gets Opened!)

  • Jun 11, 2020

By Nancy Gudekunst


We all get it.  Endless come-ons arriving in the mailbox, sometimes the only mail, usually unwanted waste.  Direct mail.

So why does it keep coming?  Because. . . it works!

A surprise comes in the mail!

Imagine receiving an envelope with a bump in, something is inside.  You may not recognize the sender, but you will open the envelope to see what the bump is.  And if the bump is something you want to keep (say a small pack of sticky notes), you may not even read the letter.  Surprise, delight, and warm feelings erupt to find a useful gift you can use!

You see the advertisers copy on the gift, and subtly you now have a positive impression of that advertiser.  And, by using the product, you are giving an implied endorsement of that advertiser.  Perhaps another person in the office will see the sticky note and think about the advertiser as well.  Maybe they do need to talk to that advertiser, and there’s the phone number. This is the first interactivity occasion you can count on the recipient having with your brand.

Use the senses.

Sending a cool product in the mail guarantees your message will be remembered and retained.  And your product can be enjoyed with more than the eyes: touch, taste, sound, and smell can all help to reaffirm your message.  Furthermore, the recipient will share your well-chosen branded merchandise with friends, family, and co-workers -- increasing your reach.

Say it is only a refrigerator magnet.  We encourage you to make the most of that magnet – the design elements are extremely important if you want people to actually place the magnet on their fridge.  But if they do, then anyone who sees their kitchen is likely to see your advertising.  After all, promotional products are the medium that remains to be seen!  This boosts your ad spend budget simply by sticking around much longer than other forms of advertising.

Ship to your clients.

When people are asked to socially isolate, mail becomes even more important.  While working from home on a computer all day, the last thing folks want to do is read something online.  Direct mail is a great alternative to trade show swag and can help your virtual event receive a higher level of interest.

Direct mail an offer.

You can make your direct mail an offer.  Send out half of the gift (i.e. one sock), and the recipient will be told how they can get the other sock (by signing up on our website).  Bam! You have their e-mail address and permission to send newsletters for more coverage!

Direct mailing can simply be a gift for current clients; something to let them know they are appreciated and remembered.  We can ship your branded products directly to your intended audience.

Our creative founder, Margaret Custer Ford, shares a story from when she sent direct mail.

"I don’t remember the year, but people in our office were excited because we had just gotten our newest time saver… a FAX MACHINE!  In early November, we decided to send our good clients something special to say 'Thank You!'

First, we had the sketch of a turkey with the copy, 'We are so glad to have you as a client, that next week nine of us are going to come drop-in, just to say 'thanks!'  (I remember getting a call from a worried customer who said 'OMG I don’t have enough chairs!')

Utilizing direct mail with clear, see-through tubes that could be sent without any additional wrapping.  They had a bright red end-cap on either end and contained a 15” ruler.  One side had this copy, 'Our entire office is the customer service department.  We’re eager to help you!' and it pictured nine of us along with our names and titles.

The reverse side was the ruler, with an inch and a pica scale, and a color density guide.  The copy on that side read:  'At MARCO we sell ideas… not products, although we often create special products because of an idea.  Our imprinted products give a slogan or theme added impact.  Since 1959, we’ve won more awards than any other advertising specialty firm in the Northwest.  May we help create an award-winning promotion for you?'"

MARCO Ideas Unlimited has a long history of using “lumpy” mail or putting something inside the package that will awaken the curiosity of the recipient.  The urge to know what is inside the envelope will help ensure that your direct mail gets opened.  But you can’t just put anything in an envelope these days – the Postal Service has rules regarding thickness, shape, size, and weight.  Check out our social media (Facebook or Instagram) for short videos of interesting products ready to mail or ask your promotional products professional to help you with targeted, creative, and appreciated ideas for direct mail.



Since the mid-90's, Nancy Gudekunst, MAS, has been the 2nd generation owner of MARCO Ideas Unlimited, an Oregon family business founded in 1959. Nancy's years of experience help cut through the clutter of swag options with creative ideas that achieve goals. Certified as a WBE and DBE.


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