There are two basic envelope styles, writes Ernest W. Nicastro of the Positive Response company, that aim to impel a mail recipient to open your envelope:
Making your envelope look personal
Using this technique, you use a heavy, high-quality paper stock, closed-face, #10 envelope with the recipient’s name and address printed on it. No addressing label. No see-through window. A postage stamp, not printed or metered postage. No envelope headline. Consider leaving your company’s name or logo off the envelope. Instead, print a name and address such as “ Joe Johnston, 914 South Hoover Street, Suite 250, Los Angeles, CA 90006” on your envelope’s return-address corner card.
Treating your outer envelope like a billboard
In the billboard approach, you make no attempt to disguise the fact that your mail is advertising. In fact, as the name implies, using this technique means that you treat your envelope as a billboard— actually printing an arresting headline on the outside. If you are offering something free, tell your printer that you want the magic word “FREE!” printed on your envelope in a second color, looking like a rubber stamp. When writing your headline, stress the chief benefit you are offering and make it grab attention. Don’t give away too much information up front.
Which envelope style works better?
“I don’t know,” Nicastro candidly admits, but, “I’ve had success using both approaches.” Highly successful direct marketers like Ted Nicholas and Gary Halbert swear by the “personal” approach. Others, like the great copywriter Bill Jayme, have used “billboard” envelopes to generate billions of dollars in sales.
However, 63 of the 71 direct mail packages that Denny Hatch reports have been actively hauling in profits for three or more years take the “billboard” approach. To arrive at a definitive answer about which strategy will work best for you, test. It is the only good solution. As the legendary direct marketing expert Dick Benson said, “There are two rules — and two rules only — in direct marketing. “Rule 1: Test everything. Rule 2: See Rule 1.”
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