Smart marketers know that direct marketing can play a crucial role in a business-to-business lead generation marketing strategy.
But creating a direct mail campaign that makes it past the mailroom and the administrative assistant to the desk of a business decision-maker – and captures the executive’s attention – can be a real marketing challenge.
Here are 13 ideas for creative direct mail formats – some familiar and some you may not have thought of – that can help get your next B2B mailing past the gatekeepers and entice business executives to open your package.
Test these B2B Direct Mail Format Ideas
- Dimensional mail: A box with a premium inside is a classic B2B direct mail tactic because it’s so effective. Few people can resist opening a box; finding a gift inside is even more engaging, especially if the gift is valuable and there’s a clever creative theme that relates to the executive’s business interests.
- Hand-addressing: Genuine hand-addressing is so unusual in business mail that it can be a real attention-getter. It’s easy to do internally or via a calligrapher if you’re mailing a small quantity; for larger quantities, use a sophisticated lettershop that offers this service. Autopen is another addressing option worth testing.
- Green triangles border: The classic border of green “first class mail” triangles along the edge of the envelope isn’t sexy, but it works. This format communicates “real business mail” in a clear, straightforward way and many B2B mailers use it.
- Mailing in a tube: Using a cardboard or plastic tube as a carrier is almost guaranteed to get your mail opened. People just have to know what’s inside a tube, especially if there’s something loose moving around inside it.
- An oversized envelope: Mail in an envelope bigger than the typical #10-size or 9” x 12” business envelope, such as a #11 envelope (4.5” x 10 3/8”) or a 10” x 13,” to help your mailing stand apart from the standard-sized pieces in a business in-box.
- An undersized envelope: A very small mailing can be as attention-getting as a very large one, especially if it looks like a personal note.
- Stationery-quality or unusual paper stock: Using the highest quality paper stock gives a business mailing a distinctive, high-end look. An unusual paper stock, such as a textured paper, can have a similar effect.
- Live stamps: Colorful live stamps, especially if you’re mailing first class, can make a business mailing look like important correspondence.
- Invitation format: A personally addressed invitation that appears to have been sent to a few select individuals is something most mailrooms and administrative assistants will deliver and most executives will open.
- Lumpy mail: An envelope that should be flat but isn’t because there’s something three-dimensional inside (such as a pen or a key on a key fob) is called lumpy mail. This tactic can be effective and attention-getting if the item inside has high perceived value.
- Translucent envelope: Being able to almost see what’s inside a mailing that’s in a translucent carrier makes recipients want to open it. Translucent paper also can be an elegant presentation of your message.
- FedEx or UPS delivery: Nearly every gatekeeper will deliver a package sent via FedEx or UPS. USPS Priority mail works, too. The cost is high, but if your target is a C-suite executive, it’s worth it.
- Non-box dimensional mail: Besides a box or a tube, almost any container you can think of can be a direct mail carrier if you’re willing to pay the postage. The best B2B mailing I ever got was an actual mailbox. Challenge your creative team to come up with carriers that will demand attention.
The Most Important Recommendation for Your Smart Marketing Strategy
As a marketing consultant who has helped clients plan hundreds of B2B direct mail campaigns, my most important advice is to properly address the mailing. There is almost no excuse for incorrect addressing, especially if you’re mailing to a highly-targeted list of C-level decision-makers that you believe are your best prospects.
Hire a telemarketing team to call each prospect’s office and confirm their name, title, and address before you mail. An incorrectly addressed mailing negates your efforts and almost guarantees that your promotion will be diverted to the trash before it reaches your prospect.