Direct Marketing

How to Design a Direct Mail Piece

John Young

October 12, 2020

John Young

October 12, 2020

We get a lot mail and some of it’s either too generic or too ambiguous on a skim through to keep reading. It makes me cringe when I get a piece of direct mail in my mailbox and see that no one put any thought into how it speaks to me, how it feels in my hands, its shape, and the look of the design. Direct marketing needs to connect with your audience. In my mind, every piece of mail thrown into the recycling is a lost opportunity.

At Bluegrass, our business is modeled around thoughtful, engaging mail. Needless to say, our goal is to keep our clients’ direct mail out of the recycling bin for as long as possible! Here’s how we help you do it, let’s get into how to design a mailer.

Make it Personal

The only thing between your direct mailing and the recycling bin is relevance. Does your message speak to your target demographic? While your direct mail campaign may be intriguing, it’s ultimately designed to communicate to a large audience. We can design a mailer to take advantage of things like Variable Data Printing to really, truthfully personalize each piece of mail. Read more about how we use VDP to personalize mail.

Choose the Right Mail Piece Format

When it comes to a direct mailing, the last thing you want to do is reinvent the wheel. Choosing your own mailer size has been heavily streamlined by the USPS. However, you still need to make an informed choice about how big (or small) you want your message. Postcard, self-mailer, letter, or catalog; the choice is yours! Of course, we have plenty to say about the different formats and how to best use them.

Stick to the Brand Guidelines

You wouldn’t wear mismatched shoes to the office, would you? Well, most of us wouldn’t; it shows people that maybe you’re a bit sloppy or too eccentric for your own good. The same is true for your company’s brand. Keep your brand colors, fonts and tone of voice consistent.

What is a brand? It’s the look and feel of your business. It should match your personality, your company culture, and be consistent across the board, especially in your direct mail. Read our end-all guide on sticking to your style guide for a crash course in branding. When you design a mailer, be sure to follow previously set brand guidelines.

Optimize Images, Colors, & Fonts for Direct Mail

Today, graphics are almost always made on a computer. However, digital images you post on your social media or business website will not translate well to print. Print design is an entirely different game. A printed image needs to be much higher in resolution than a digital image—what looks good on the screen will look blurry on the printed page, depending on the “dots per inch” (DPI).

Furthermore, digital screens are all calibrated differently, some better than others. This means something as simple as the color red might look pink on your smartphone, red on your laptop, and orange on your iPad. This goes for print as well—what you see on the screen will not directly translate to the page.

Font legibility is just as important. Like everything else I’ve mentioned, what reads well on the screen will not always read well on your direct mail. As you can see, design is a hot topic for me. Before I go any further let me direct you to our comprehensive guide to print and digital design, which can help you design a mailer.

Well-Designed Direct Mail is Cohesive at Every Stage

I always tell my clients that success isn’t about perfecting one aspect. Instead, it’s about making sure every component fits together. A well-designed direct mailing is cohesive at every stage. It needs to embody your brand, strike a chord with your audience, use its format wisely, and simply look good.

At Bluegrass, we have experts for all of these stages, from the brand strategists to the analysts, the copywriters, and the graphic designers. Let us take what you want to say and communicate it wisely and widely. We’ll work hard to design a mailer customized to your unique business goals and needs.


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