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Why Your Brand Matters in Direct Mail

Does your brand matter in direct mail? Direct mail purists insist that response is the result of interplay between offer, the mailing list, and the message/value proposition. Some recent experience would indicate that a fourth component can play a significant role in a mailing’s success, too — brand perception.

Here are four mini case studies where brand perception had a major impact on direct mail success.

 


Case study #1: A brand in trouble

A large national brand client had been mailing basically unmodified controls for years.

They got called out for misdeeds. Then it happened again. Then there were the lawsuits and unrelenting bad press. Response sank so low on their DM that they put their acquisition effort on hiatus until they had gone through a complete damage-control rebrand.

The lesson: Hold off mailing while the bad news is still fresh. No use mailing while you’re in the doghouse and response rates are way down.

 


Case study #2: An unknown gets bought

For years, we worked with company A to refine offers and creative for their B-to-B financial product. Response rates were strong and the business was successful enough that it caught the eye of company B, a well-funded, market-leading fintech. The first test after the buyout used the exact same product, offer, and creative mailed to the established target with one difference — the addition of company B’s logo. Result: response doubled.

The lesson: A great value prop will get you launched. A great offering from a great brand will put you into orbit.

 


Case study #3: Better unknown

We’ve seen it time and again. A startup with a compelling product jumps into the mail with an envelope sporting their (unknown) logo in full color in the upper left above the return address. We tested that against a full stealth envelope (no copy on the envelope except for the return address). The non-logo envelope outpulled the branded alternative to become the control (and luckily, it costs less, too).

The lesson: It takes time to build a brand. Until your brand makes people want to act, don’t assume it will get people interested enough to learn more about you.

 


Case study #4: The co-branded sale

A recipient typically assumes that a mailing is coming from a single entity, so a co-branded effort with two logos can lead to confusion. Here are two situations where a well-known credit card partnered with different financial services companies and how we thought through which logo to put on the envelope:

  • Financial institution #1 is well known and well respected. The target was relatively affluent. They probably don’t need another credit card. But they might be excited to have a relationship with this institution. We led with the institution logo on the envelope and introduced the special offer on the credit card inside the package.
  • Financial institution #2 markets to a non-prime financial demographic. Getting an invitation to apply for a credit card is exciting to this target since they have few credit options. We led with the credit card on the envelope and introduced the company behind it inside the package.

The lesson: A logo on an envelope is a first impression. When partnering on a mailing, take the target’s POV to decide which logo leads the charge.

 


Brand matters in direct mail. How your target relates to your brand right now plays a crucial role in whether they open your envelope and how they engage with your message. When developing your direct mail, stop to (honestly) consider brand perception and its role in motivating your target. As always, test your hypothesis as part of your DM optimization plan.

“Make the logo bigger” cartoon by Tom Fishburne – Marketoonist

One Final Note

If you’re interested in trying out direct mail and adding it to your marketing mix, then drop us a line. We’re standing by to answer any questions you might have, and most importantly, to help you get your mail opened.

Jeff Tarran

As VP of Account Services, Jeff works with our clients to analyze business problems and develop direct marketing strategies that achieve their goals. A 20-year veteran and strategic thought leader in direct marketing, Jeff has headed two independent direct response agencies in the Bay Area after starting his career at Foote Cone and Belding. He earned a Dual BS in management and communications at Syracuse University and his MBA in marketing at Columbia University in New York.

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