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How the marketing envelope does its job. (DM Notebook).

The only purpose of the envelope in a newsletter promotional mailing, the wag has it, is to keep the contents from spilling out and getting lost in the mail.

About as succinctly, the only purpose of the envelope in the marketing package is to "get opened." So how does it, the envelope, go about fulfilling that purpose?

I once heard an "expert" claim that two-thirds of all mail received in U.S. business offices arrives in #10, 241b., white envelopes. He must have been close to right. The question for newsletter marketers is, Do you want to be part of that group or to attempt to set your package apart in some manner?


Tests of 9x12 envelopes in which I've been involved never paid off their additional costs, but some publishers--Lawrence Ragan Communications is one--have been quite successful with sample issue offers mailed flat in a vertical 9x 12 format. Research Institute of America also used them for years.

Direct marketing maven Ed Nash claims he's never seen a 6x9 envelope that didn't contain an ad. Since I heard him say that perhaps 15 years ago, I've been checking and never found him wrong.

Small formats, #7.75 and even smaller, have worked but only for "household name" publishers like the Kip linger Washington Letter.

Oversize #12s and even #14 envelopes certainly make an impression in the mail. A letter sized for a #14 unfolds to "dominate the desk" of the prospect, but their cost is right up there with 20-page magalogs.

Teaser copy

Creating effective teaser copy is a whole other subject, but if well done it does work as its success in many markets demonstrates. "Any competent mail screener can recognize advertising mail," the late Bill Jayme said. "The trick is to create advertising mail that 'looks interesting' and gets opened."

And when creating teasers, don't forget the back of the envelope, because there's a 50 percent chance it is the first thing the prospect will see.

If you choose to skip teaser copy and go with a "plain vanilla" approach, go all the way- #10 envelope, full return address, metered First Class postage, inkjetted address. A blank envelope with no return address, an address label and bulk rate indicia is a waste of money.


United Communications Group has had strong results for years using bright red envelopes for one of their staples, the "quiz package," for many titles. Yellow worked less well but it still outpulled white.

Kraft envelopes work very well for "official-looking" packages. I had good results with a pinstripe envelope I hoped exuded the class of a bespoke suit. If you use a darker shade, be careful about teaser copy that can become difficult to read.


A window envelope creates that mystery of "What is in there with my name on it?" Very effective for faux checks and certificate-type mailings.

If you have an especially attractive premium, a second window through which it shows can be very effective.

Windows are also cost-effective and convenient since the label on the order form also serves as the address label.


Clear envelopes, shiny Mylar, envelopes with a pull-tab that rips open and drops the contents into the prospect's hands--all of these have had their moments in the sun. The problem with them lies in the word "novelty"--after the prospect has seen a couple of these, they tend to lose their impact.
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Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Jul 16, 2003
Previous Article:Get creative in your mailing list research. (Mailing Lists).
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