The Planet!! My Thoughts on Mailers and Marketing

Over the holidays, about ten million marketing mailers were delivered to our apartment. I had to address this situation (a fewwww months late/maybe nearly a year late, but here I am). So for one week, I collected all the mailers and kept them in a convenient pile in the middle of my room. I collected about 20, and know I missed a few. But LOOK AT ALL OF THIS!

Just one week, one apartment. This means that alone, my 4 apartment building probably got 80-100 mailers a week. With the rapid rise of digital marketing and the planet's deteriorating health, I wanted to explore whether or not these tree-killers were even worth it. I'm a sucker for beautiful paper goods, but I think if you're going to print advertising, do it right. 

So here we go:

Hahah yes. Us four recent college graduates were dying for the opportunity to purchase some swagged out mink coats. We were on the El to Winnetka before I could even ask "is mink more eco-friendly than faux fur?!" (that answer is unclear and I researched this 'hairy situation' here. Also don't think you can take the El train to Winnetka. I have no idea.) But the thing with this mass marketing mailer approach is that these are reaching so many audiences, but most of them are totally off target. I'm guessing maybe 5% of the recipients of this promotional piece were intrigued. (And then probably jumped in their Escalade to head out to Winnetka on a Tuesday afternoon because that's probably what you do in that situation. Idk.) In the past years, marketing has and will continue to be more and more personalized. Mass marketing doesn't always resonate anymore. 

Thought: What if McElroy Furs invested a little less in mailers, and a little more in market research. Find out who really wants (and can afford) a fur coat, but still wants a good deal. Where do they live? What inspires them to act? Are they online, or does print advertising reach them better? Assuming old people are most interested in new fur coats, McElroy may be on the right track with the mailers. But maybe just target those people, and even make the mailer furry or something interactive and attention-grabbing. Bring the fur experience to the home with the mailers. Yes they'd be more expensive to make but you'd be making less of them to just reach your target audience and drive the sales that really matter. Just sayin. 

Moving on:

Victoria's Secret sneaks its way into our mail every couple weeks. A real regular in the Southport APT mailbox. They do a really great job of creating beautiful content though. And they're sending these to us because our household has purchased from VS, and continues to do so. We probably have a rewards member up in here too, so at least they know who they're marketing to. I'll let it slide. (but maybe I'm biased because I love their swimsuits?)

But then...

THEN Victoria started sending us BOOKS. Like...good content and all. But CHILLLLLLLL these are thicker than my fitness magazines!!! (Although both publications probably inspire me to work out and only eat spinach) A little overboard Victoria. Keep some of your secrets to yourself.

Okay, neighborly coupon book. This one does have a target in mind. And I appreciate that. It's called Neighborhood Direct after all. The content makes sense. Coupons for restaurants and businesses right by our apartment. Now all we need as a sprinkle of good design on this baby and it'd be a winner (although consumers are moving from "clipping to clicking", so digital/mobile coupons may be a better and more environmentally friendly approach...) Maybe I'm being a font snob but the cover is killin me, and the business on the inside makes it look like more trouble than it's worth to find the great deals in the mailer. Good design goes a long way!

Here we go! Nice photography, cohesive and consistent font choice. Clear and attractive ads on the inside. This has all the goods of the previous mailer + decent design. Can't say I used any coupons but I can respect it. I think one improvement would be to include a call to action on the front to inspire viewers to open it, but this is better than lots of other things gracing our mailbox these days. 

Obviously a great cause. But idk about donating my car. There's probably a better way to find those car donations. Maybe mass marketing is the best approach for this (could imagine it might be hard to find random people with cars they could donate) but think this would be just as effective/less detrimental to the planet with a digital campaign.

Nowwww here's a winner. I think this United States Postal Service campaign is the best (part of a larger integrated campaign here):

I like the "Inside: Everything you need to win the holidays." Inspires you to open. And right when you open, you see the campaign website link! Fun language, consistent and attractive design. Integrated with an interactive mobile campaign. Target market is on point (pretty easy for postal service to target mailboxes, but I mean, it's on point...). Win! 

It doesn't really get better than USPS...

You know what feels like getting money in your mailbox? Getting money in your mailbox. 

Your standard holiday catalog. Fine.

VICTORIA! Again. Brought the boobs this time. Okay this is just a little mailer with a coupon on it. And again, well targeted. She's just so needy though. Keeps coming back for more. 


So to review: I think the most successful mailers were not only properly targeted and well-designed with a call-to-action, but are also a part of a larger integrated marketing campaign. The one-off marketing approach doesn't always work. Everything is connected now and I think the overall marketing message resonates more when it the message appears consistently in different channels. The coupon books are fine, but mobile coupons are all the rage now so maybe a mobile coupon book is the move. What do you think? If you are going to do a mailer, DO IT RIGHT so it's not a waste of paper! #savetheplanet