8 Tips on Self-Mailers from Marketing Consultant George Duncan

  • A “self-mailer” is any format that does not require an outer envelope.

    An 11” x 17” flat folded in half to 8-1/2” x 11” is a common self-mailing format. So is the same size flat, folded in half once again to 5-1/2” x 8-1/2”. Note: The United States Postal Service requires self mailers to be sealed at least once by a wafer or glue device.

  • Self-mailers are usually less costly to produce and mail than envelope mailings.

  • Self-mailers are “look-at” pieces, not “read carefully” advertising.

    Recommendation: If you need to communicate detailed or complicated information, you may be better off with a multi-unit mailing enclosed in an outer envelope.

  • Direct mail hinges on a letter.

    The further away one goes from the look and feel of a letter, the more one risks reducing the mailing’s impact. Idea: Print a simulated letter on one panel of your self-mailers.

  • Self-mailers typically pull less than1% response, while envelope packages generate response of between 1% and 5%.

  • Experiment: Test your self-mailer against an envelope package with the same offer to determine which format is more cost-effective.

  • Self-mailers do not include reply envelopes.

    Penalty: An offer that calls for payment will usually work less well in a self-mailing format than in a multi-unit package that includes a reply envelope.

  • Self-mailers work best with impulse buys— books, seminars, conferences, periodicals.

  • Pricey Offers: Some software companies, George Duncan observes, have used self-mailers successfully—mainly as lead-generation pieces.

  • A self-mailer to a customer list can cross-sell, up-sell, or produce aftermarket sales.

    Boom! The same offers by self-mailers to cold lists probably would bomb.

See also:

12 Winning Ideas on Postcards and Self-Mailers

Ivan Levison’s 6 Pointers on High-Result Self-Mailers

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