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6 Brilliant Direct Marketing Pieces You Can't Resist

Posted by | Dec 10, 2015

World Water Day Card

It’s getting harder to stand out in direct marketing. Many marketers are grabbing attention by being creative and outrageously unique. A good DM piece manages the difficult task of blending creativity with a compelling message, often delivering both at the same time. If you’re reading a direct mail piece and laughing your head off or interacting with it in ways that excite you, then the piece has succeeded in delivering that balance.

Of course, motivations—external and internal—play a huge role in determining how to approach a direct mail campaign. A highly targeted piece aimed at generating leads will differ from one designed to create awareness. The challenge is always to make it compelling enough to make recipients rip open the envelope.

Here’s a countdown of 6 direct mail campaigns that successfully managed both.

6. World Water Day Card

To celebrate World Water Day, Green Belgium Mailing sent out a water-powered mailer. The letter inside could only be read when submerged in water. It’d be impossible to resist the urge to read the card, even if it means getting your hands wet. How appropriate.

Green Belgium World Water Day Card

5. IKEA’s Lack Side

The furniture store IKEA stuffed a pop-up LACK side table into one of its catalogs. Open the flat-packed paper and a 3D side table pops up. The idea is to show how easy it is to assemble IKEA furniture. This is the type of creative DM pieces users love to share with their friends on social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest, which in turn drums up more attention and business for IKEA.

Ikea Jumping Pop Up

4. eVgo’s Fob Box

DMN3’s client eVgo delivered a free welcome package to new owners of the Nissan Leaf. Inside the glove compartment of each Leaf, customers found a fob granting them access to 12 months of free charging at local eVgo stations. Provided in the beautifully designed box was the free fob and a keychain with a customer service number. Recipients also found a card with the message: “A certified eVgo technician will provide a free home Circuit Selection Service and advise you on the best circuit for direct plug-in charging of your new Nissan LEAF.” How cool.

eVGO Fob Box

3. The Cardboard Record Player

Griffiths, Gibson & Ramsay designed a direct mail piece that converts into a functional record player –yes, a record player—in one step. The piece is made from corrugated cardboard and contains a 45 RPM record. I don’t know about you, but I’d be stumbling over myself trying to open this thing if it showed up at my door. Sometimes a tactile piece is what it takes to drive your point home.

GGRP DM poster

2. IBM’s Sand Invite

IBM was struggling to get people to attend their seminars. So they came up with a creative way to get people off their seats and into airplanes. IBM sent out a large box that contained a pouch of sand and a plain card. Invitees were instructed to pour the sand on the card. When dusted off, the sand that remained stuck to the card revealed a hidden message: IBM Opens in Qatar. The exercise yielded a 40% response rate.


1. The Trojan Ball

If you received a box shaped like a soccer ball, what would you expect to find inside? A soccer ball, duh. This piece was mailed to CEOs and other decision makers. On the outside it looks like a brand new soccer ball. There's also this message on the outer package: "Inside is the ball 28.5 million of US Hispanics truly identify with." I can see the excitement on a CEO's face as she tries to rip the box open. When these high-level execs opened the box, however, they found an American football. Printed on the side of the ball were additional stats that further underscored the magnitude of the Hispanic NFL audience, such as: “The Super Bowl was seen by 2 million more Hispanics than the World Cup final in Germany” and “73% of US Hispanics are NFL fans.” The piece generated a tremendous amount of business partnerships between the NFL and key brands in the Hispanic community.

NFL Trojan Ball

Not for every budget

Okay, let’s face it: While these pieces are great, they’re not ideal for everyone’s budget. However, if you have the budget to work with die cuts, tactile products, beautiful designs and great copywriters, marketing to a highly targeted list of prospects can yield an incredible ROI.

The main takeaway here is that you must think outside the metaphorical box (or envelope) if you want your direct mail efforts to succeed.

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