Self-mailers are postcard-like direct mail pieces, which can be sent as-is, without the need for an envelope or wrapper. Today we’re looking at the basics of self-mailers: reasons for using them, methods for making them more effective, and USPS regulations for sending them.
Should You Use A Self-Mailer?
Self-mailers are popular because they help companies save significant amounts of money by eliminating envelopes and wrappers. Instead, mailing information is posted on one of the outside panels of the mailer. Since there is only one sheet of paper– front and back– they are also more simple to design, and easier to assemble than an envelope mailing.
But self-mailers do hold one significant risk: they are more likely to be tuned out, categorized as junk mail, or written off as impersonal than a letter is. According to DirectMail.com, “Postcards and self-mailers seem to work best for providing coupons to previous customers, announcing sales or inviting customers to a grass-roots style marketing event or selling lower-end consumer goods where a ‘no frills and low price’ sales message is important.”
Target Marketing offers their own criteria for using a self-mailer. They say to use it it when:
- Your offer has quick visual appeal.
- Your offer leaps off the page, and your call to action is easy: a simple phone call or web address.
- Your message is easy to understand.
- Your mailing doesn’t need to make a sale.
Once you determine that a self-mailer is a good fit for your needs, the next step is to figure out how to use it effectively, and follow mailing regulations.
Get Savvy With Your Words and Design:
With minimal space available for content, the goal is to use every word and image to your benefit. Auburn Document Centre articulates this well:
“Information needs to flow quickly and smoothly from the initial pitch to the fine print. The fewer words needed to convey your message, the better.” Self-mailers provide a great opportunity to get creative with images, color, and paper texture. Eye-catching photography is especially valuable with the limited space available. The more personal a mailer can be, the better. Avoid using simply an address and ‘current resident’ whenever possible, in favor of the individual’s full name.
Production and Regulations:
Despite being comprised of just one sheet, self-mailer production can be deceptively tricky. Target Marketing has a great list of common production pitfalls. Double check that your designer knows up from down, and that the layout of your piece reflects this; make sure to check that your paper is thin enough to laser, and to consider a method for sealing your self-mailer (they recommend Release glue over tabbing or staples); check in with postal regulations. For this final step, the USPS has a reference document for self-mailers.
Additional Information From Our Sources:
Target Marketing: The Self-Mailer Challenge.
Auburn Document Centre: Stretch Your Budget With Self-Mailers.
DirectMail.com: Package Design- Envelope or Self-mailer?