Direct Marketing

Types of Direct Mail Pieces

Sawyier Phillips

October 21, 2020

Sawyier Phillips

October 21, 2020

Every piece of direct mail has its own list of benefits. Your choice (and our guidance) in selecting what type of direct mail to send out depends on your audience, your goals, and your budget. Together, these factors will drive your direct mailing campaign.

Don’t worry—we provide plenty of guidance to our customers when it comes to choosing their direct mail pieces. We may choose only one or we may use a few types of direct mail pieces in your direct marketing efforts. However, the choices may make your head spin if you’re not prepared. Let’s look at each of the types of direct mail to get an idea of what it looks like and how to best use it in your direct mailing campaign.


Short and sweet; that’s how I’d describe a postcard. To me, they evoke a certain sense of whimsy. While you may not be sending out the same types of postcards as a traveling tourist in your direct mailing campaign, you can still take advantage of that pang of nostalgia and a concise message.

Postcards have one of the highest engagement rates of any of the types of direct mail pieces. As a direct mailing piece, they allow the most visiblity at first glance, with all of your marketing information in view. They’re also inexpensive and versatile. We go deeper into postcards and how to take advantage of them in our comprehensive postcard guide.


Self-mailers, in my eyes, are somewhere between a catalog and a postcard in the direct mailing world. They’re meant to be colorful, beautiful, and to highlight your business. When you think of self-mailers, think of a brochure or a leaflet. They are largely informational and meant to intrigue your audience. I often recommend self-mailers as a way to highlight new products or services and to bridge the gap between a postcard and a full-fledge catalog and postcard.

A great leaflet is simple (just a few pages), bright, and cheerful. Take a look at our guide to the perfect self-mailer strategy to learn a bit more.


Are you looking to dazzle a sophisticated client base, yet add a sense of formality and privacy to your direct mailing outreach? Letters are the way to go. Calling them “letters” may be a bit disingenuous. Letters, for lack of a better word, describe any direct mail that arrives at a person’s door in an envelope. For marketing and direct mailing, we often refer to these letters as “lead letters”, since they’re meant to generate engagement, find leads, and drive revenue.

Letters can be colorful, highly-designed, and contain several pieces within one envelope. Letters are a great way to drive donations or show your customers that you’re a sophisticated business looking for their continued support. We will dive more into how to best use letters in a dedicated blog post.


We all remember the Sears catalog, right? Many of our childhood holidays revolved around the crinkled pages of the toy section within that catalog. While we may not see catalogs as often these days, they are still an important part of many businesses ‘ sales strategies and direct mailing. They’re also as exciting as ever, assuming you’re sending them to the right people. When designed to include targeted content for your audience, catalogs can be the prime choice among your types of direct mail pieces.

Catalogs are big, colorful, and expensive to print. However, when used in conjunction with a solid product line up, they are still what drives sales, especially in industries that are always on the lookout for new technology. Let me put it this way; if you’re an electrician, then you’re still getting excited by the latest Fluke catalog when it shows up at your door. That’s not to mention the resurgence of business-to-consumer retail catalogs in direct marketing. There’s a lot we can still say about the surprising efficacy of the modern catalog; read about it here.

Direct Mail; All Pieces to the Same Puzzle

Your direct mail strategy should be fluid and adaptable. I always tell clients that to really communicate with their audience they need to evolve the way they use direct mail. Different types of direct mail pieces – Postcards, self-mailers, letters, and catalogs are all pieces of a larger direct mailing puzzle. Knowing how they fit into your brand is the challenging part and it’s what we help you with at Bluegrass. It’s time to rethink your direct marketing strategy; we’ll work with what’s effective, find new ways to engage your audience and use the power of direct mail to its fullest.

As your partner in all things direct marketing, we have both your direct mailing creative and direct mailing services covered when it comes to selecting your types of direct mail pieces.


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