The Cracker Jack Effect

Recent research shows that with the amount of emails being sent, and the open rate which has fallen to under 10%, many marketers are adding old school direct response as another tool in their communication arsenal which no doubt includes: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Emails and Pinterest and their own websites

Today I want to talk about direct response marketing because you might choose to use it and I want to make sure you have a few tricks and tips up your sleeve.

Any good marketing person will tell you that the first objective of any direct mail campaign is to get the prospect to OPEN THE ENVELOPE.  

And so there has been a lot of research done on sizes of envelopes, color, shape, address (printed or handwritten), copy on envelopes vs. no copy on envelopes, return addresses vs. P.O. Box return addresses and, first class vs. bulk rate

I have found that there are only three envelope strategies that will get a reader’s attention in a pile of mail.  Of course there is the oversized postcard which can’t be missed and is very effective, but also costs about $1.00 to $1.25 to do it right.  (Postage, card stock, art work, printing). The oversized postcard, I have found, is a consistent winner and I frequently test it against an envelope with a well written professionally produced letter containing a compelling offer, NOT FLYERS!! If you don’t have someone to write it, call me I have been writing “copy that sells” for years and I’ll be happy to help.

One is a handwritten envelope.  There are printing options out there that can make an address look like it was handwritten and it is an effective way to get a person to open the envelope.

The second is a window envelope that has the customer’s name peeking out from the window.  These types of envelopes look more official and have a greater tendency to be opened.  Of course, placing some copy on the envelope may enhance the open rate. Such copy could be: “Please open immediately,” or “Company and team building programs inside” or just “Confidential.”  Old school copy that these new executives have never seen will peak their curiosity.

The third is a bulky envelope.  

Curiosity is a tool that you can use to your advantage when working on a direct mail campaign. 

I call it the “Crackerjacks effect” that promises to contain more than just another bill or boring letter.  Most people are naturally curious. If there is a chance of getting a gift or a treat; at the very least they are going to open up the letter to find out what’s inside.  This is one of the reasons why the Crackerjacks effect is so effective. Curiosity!

Think of small items that you can include in your letter that will make the envelope bulky and therefore make your readers curious enough to open it.  Be careful to only use items that will remain intact. Refrigerator magnets, pens, decals, USB drives, coin holders, small American flags, coozi sleeves; the list is endless.

Why should I read your letter?
With direct mail campaigns, you need to give your prospects a compelling reason to open and read your letter.  Because people get bombarded with so much information and so many sales pitches on a daily basis, you need to find a creative way to get your prospects attention. 

Give them something to be curious about and you already have a foot in the door.  Here are a few ideas that have been very effective over time:

  • Include a headache tablet (Alka Seltzer wrapped) with the phrase: “If thinking about your next company event is giving you a headache?  Happy Lanes can help. Then go on and explain your program pointing out the benefits of team building, boosting morale, affordability and just plain fun that everyone can do, etc.
  • Attach a matchstick to the top of the letter.  This is good for open play summer fun.  In your introduction you can explain “Here’s a burning idea that’s all about Good Time family Fun.”  Happy Lanes is the place to cool off with family and friends this weekend.
  • Include a balloon or some glitter in the envelope to promote a special event or corporate party, “Dear Peter, if you are thinking of ideas for your next company party or celebration we can help you.  We’re Happy lanes and we can help you….”
  • You can include a bowling pin.  I put a tag on the pin that says “Pin down your holiday plans today at Happy Lanes”.  I use these bowling pins, all wrapped up in neat bouquet of fake or real flowers as a way to introduce myself to an HR person at a big company.  I do this in September with 10 or 20 big companies in my market that have over 500 employees. You may not have companies of that size so just go after the biggest companies in your market area.
  • Include a sweatband and a comment: “Are the costs of your weekend family fun making you sweat? Does it feel like an endless marathon effort? Happy Lanes can help!

For most people getting a surprise in the mail is a welcome diversion from an average stressful work day.  A bulky envelope with a handwritten address is far more likely to get a person’s attention than other types of envelopes. However, I have seen some very effective campaigns featuring plain white envelopes with a printed address and a return address, but not mentioning the bowling center’s name. You must always keep testing.

Not every letter needs to be bulky mail especially if you are sending out a series of letters. (See key rule below). You can decide at what point it will be most effective in your campaign. 

Be creative and have fun with it.  If you do you can be sure your readers will enjoy it too.

As always, I strongly urge that you use a multitude of tools in CONJUNCTION with your mail campaign, which may include a series of letters + an email campaign + daily posts on Facebook and a “YouTube” video, strategically timed and placed.

And finally it is better to go after that segment which is tightly defined to represent your best prospect for buying the offer you are selling…even if it represents fewer in numbers.  Give me 1000 great prospects vs. 10,000 suspects any time!

As Steve Jobs was fond of saying, “THINK DIFFERENT.”
We couldn’t agree more…and so we do.
About Fred Kaplowitz
Marketing is in my DNA. I love to solve problems and meet challenges head on and I have successfully produced results for hundreds of clients. I love what I do and love helping to make my clients more successful and happier. I am a husband and father, consultant, a coach, a teacher, a motivator, a copy- writer, and a speaker. I look forward to working with anyone searching for a proven methodology out of mediocrity. May I assist you in taking your business to the next level. Please call me now @ 516 359 4874 to review your business goals and strategies.

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