Category Archives: Mailers

5 Tips: What Designers Know About Designing Mailers

Too often considerable resources are spent on the marketing literature, and yet the decision as to how it will be presented to your target market is made by the mailroom.    It is the mailer, and not the literature inside, that is on the front line speaking volumes about the quality of your firm.  Here are five great design tips that will enable your mailer to work as hard as your marketing materials:

1.  Paperboard mailers are exceptionally print friendly (unlike bubble mailers, boxes, and Tyvek envelopes).  So get bold about using that space to your company’s advantage.  Put your logo, your branding statement or icon, and even “Follow us on Twitter!”.   A generic approach is best if you anticipate that the mailer will have multiple uses.

2.  Alternatively, design your mailer specifically to create excitement about what’s inside.  For example:  “Your samples are here!” or “Valuable conference materials for Expo 2011!” .  This ensures your package gets opened first, rather than the recipient discovering it on their own only once they’ve opened it.

3.  Put business on the back, branding on the front.  In other words, put your mailing label on the back side of the mailer where the flap closes so that you have a full canvas on the front side to let your branding and marketing message shine.

4.   Putting your mailer in the mail will put your beautifully printed mailer through its paces, so avoid printing it in a dark color end to end (a.k.a. “full bleed).  If the mailer’s corners get bruised in any way, the white fibers in the paperboard will appear and distract the eye from the overall look of the package.

5.  QR Codes are all the range on billboards these days, so why not think of your mailer as a giant billboard for your company that just happens to be delivered to your client’s mailbox? Add a QR code to your mailer to tie your offline marketing efforts to your online ones.  You could feature a video of your CEO thanking your customer for their business!

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Advertisements

Recyclable Tyvek® Mailers? Not Really.

Is it legitimate to say that a product is 100% recyclable when, in reality, the majority of municipalities won’t accept that product for collection?

This contradiction has always left me scratching my head.  Why? Technically DuPont™ Tyvek® high density polyethylene (HDPE) material can be safely incinerated BUT only if the product gets sorted and collected.  Tyvek has a collection problem and they know it: they’ve put well-intended but impractical programs in place to address the issue.

I did a little detective work, and here’s what I learned:

1.  Most municipalities won’t collect Tyvek envelopes.  Waste Management, with over 25% market share in the solid waste services industry, states: “there’s no single answer to what is acceptable for recycling, since municipal programs vary.”  So digging deeper at the municipality level, I found that many municipalities collect HDPE but only if they are in the form of containers:

#2 HDPE : Examples: Milk jugs. Juice bottles. Bottles for bleach, laundry detergent, some household cleansers.  Motor oil bottles.  Butter, oleomargarine, and yogurt tubs.

2.  In response, DuPont has created a recycling program in partnership with Waste Management but get this — it requires you to pay them $15 to get the kit!  Then the burden is on you to mail your recyclable Tyvek to them.  If you are a household or a small to medium business – or if you are a large corporation sending packages to these kinds of recipients – how likely do you think Tyvek recipients are going to buy a kit, separate out all the Tyvek, and mail it back?  Not very likely.

So think hard before you use Tyvek – because you are putting a product into circulation that most likely will not be recycled.  There are other protective mailers out there that do the job and are authentically 100% recyclable through your local municipality.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Conformer Hall of Shame #13: Bubble Mailer Failure (Great Video!)

Microsoft ran a viral campaign years ago which recently resurfaced on YouTube.  Its intention, I think, was to persuade the public to abandon paper altogether.  Alas, paper usage has outlasted their campaign.

This hilarious video did succeed in brilliantly illustrating how awkward the bubble mailer can be, and questions why we put up with it. I mean, it’s not even recyclable. The truth is, we still live in a paper-bound environment. That means making better choices: using products that work better, look better, and are more environmentally friendly. (Sorry bubble mailer, you fail on all three.)

Many thanks to one of our favorite Conformer fans who brought this great video to our attention this morning:  “I saw this (video) and thought of you and your blog. If they had been using Conformer mailers, this wouldn’t have been a problem,”  said Nicole R. Benner | Client Events Manager | Blank Rome LLP.

-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

BREAKING NEWS: ‘Blackhole’ Virus Attacks End Users on USPS’s Intelligent Mail Services Website

Conformer Products has just been alerted this morning that the United States Postal Serviced website has become a victim of one of the more robust viruses called “Blackhole” that is well designed to evade antivirus detection and get onto as many end user machines as possible.

Specifically, the “Rapid Information Bulletin System” (RIBBS) pages on the U.S. Postal Service’s website have been infected where anyone visiting these pages would be infected.  Normally, these pages are designed to provide end users visiting the site with intelligent mail services like tracking and logistics information.   This obviously applies to users of Conformer mailers and envelopes using the U.S. Postal Service.

According to Dark Reading, a trusted security industry blog, the infected site was identified by Michael Sutton, vice president of research at Zscaler, who alerted the USPS now addressing the issue.

If you would like to learn more about the technical details of this virus, we encourage you to read more on Zscaler’s blog.

-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Try Googling “USPS Damaged My Package”

USPS Damaged My Package

Yesterday the USPS delivered a package from Amazon in a corrugated box that looked like it been tossed into a cage of chimpanzees just before feeding hour.  Normally, you think of corrugated boxes as being on the indestructible side of the packaging family.  And because of this — despite much higher postage costs — we often gravitate to this kind of packaging for added protection.

Chimpanzees 1, Hardcover Book, 0.

I don’t know what mail carriers (and I’m including UPS and FEDEX here) are doing with our parcels during transit beyond overcharging us for handling, but I’ve received some packages in some truly dreadful condition lately.  And if you feel like getting your hair blown back, try googling “USPS Damaged My Package”.  I am not alone.  I feel bad for the eBay sellers and the Amazon resellers whose livelihoods depend largely on the mail service.

Given these facts, the condition of the package itself is not as critical as whether or not that package protected the contents.  And here, Amazon is to blame, not the USPS.  There was way too much excess capacity and internal shift in the box containing my book order.  Because of the excess capacity in the box, the internal shift subjected the books to every bump and bruise incurred by the box itself.  These photos show you exactly what happened to the books along the way.

Is it a book or a paper airplane?

So how do you ensure your package survives the postal journey?

  • Do not be lured into an oversized package that boasts protection.
  • Whatever packaging option you choose, the packaging solution must conform to its contents to minimize the shift.
  • Use packaging that is sized correctly to the contents, and if it’s not, use eco-friendly fill to make up the difference.

These guidelines can’t guarantee a safe journey among the chimpanzees, but they dramatically improve the odds.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

6 Tips to Avoid Overpackaging

  1. Take out a measuring tape. Measure the length, width, and thickness of the contents you want to mail.  This will help you shop for the right package that will fit your contents.
  2. Don’t buy more than you need. Using a packaging solution that is far bigger than your contents requires more filler so your content don’t shift inside and get damaged.
  3. Think about the requirements of your packaging solution. This avoids overpackaging and overspending.  Does it need to be waterproof?  Does it need to protect something fragile?  Do you need perimeter protection or top/bottom protection or both?  Is it recyclable?
  4. Who is doing the assembly, you or someone else? Will it be used in a fulfillment center environment, or will it be assembled on the boardroom table by office staff?  Consider whether pre-assembly and peel-and-stick closure is a “nice to have” or a “need to have” feature.
  5. What is your shipping method? If postal cost is a big consideration, head to your shipper’s website and review your options through the cost-savings lens of your carrier.
  6. Plan ahead.  Don’t make your packaging a last-minute decision.  That almost guarantees that you will overpackage and pay too much for the privilege.

Send me your overpackaging stories… and tell me how you overcame your addiction.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

‘Fringe’ Case Study: Social Media Really Works!

A Good Sign

I’ll be honest with you.  Product placement has never been in our marketing plans.  I mean, product placement is for soft drinks, laptops, and running shoes.  Right?

But our ongoing social media outreach, coupled with product placement, turned out to be an incredibly effective marketing combination.  Since so many of us are still trying to figure out how to use social media tools effectively to build business, I thought you might be interested in hearing our own success story this week.

As you may know, the Conformer mailer was featured at length in the opening sequence of “Fringe” last Friday on the Fox television network. Had the media exposure stopped there, the “Fringe” product placement probably wouldn’t have influenced a single sale.  That’s where social media made all the difference.  Here’s what we did next:

  • We used Hulu to create a tightly edited version of Conformer’s appearance, creating an efficient way to showcase our Hollywood moment.
  • Then I updated the Conformer blog on our lucky break and added an easy click to our video clip.
  • Our blog automatically streams to our LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, so all of our connections heard about the story first.  We have a clever link at the bottom of every Conformer employee’s email signature that features our blog stories, so our video clip showed up there, too.
  • Our PR firm wrote a press release, which alerted trade magazines and our favorite bloggers.  Our story got picked up online in places we’re still discovering, allowing us to reach people who have never heard of Conformer before.
  • A personalized email was sent to friends, colleagues, clients, and interested parties and we encouraged them to share with friends.
  • On our home page, we showcased the video spot on a peel-back corner of our website, which we know through Google Analytics is one of our most-clicked web pages.
  • We shared many of these tools with our strategic partners who collaborate with us to bring Conformer to the marketplace. This enables our “Fringe” fame to go viral among their customer base.   And some even featured our video clip at the weekly sales meeting to fire up the reps.
  • We used a URL shortener called bit.ly to create a tidy way to communicate the link and also allows us to track clicks.   https://conformerinc.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/fox-networks-fringe-gives-conformer-15-seconds-of-fame/ became http://bit.ly/dHthFD.  This shortened URL prints nicely on a sticker, now placed on all Conformer samples.
  • And of course, we’re writing stories like this one and sending them in our monthly enewsletter in case you may have missed all of the hullabaloo from last week.

So how many “Fringe” viewers from that first Friday night called us after seeing our product placement?  Zero.  How many people contacted us after our social media campaign?  A LOT…and they’re sales inquiries.  Our blog and website traffic is way up and continues to stay up (thanks to viral marketing), which conveniently improves our Google search rankings.

Many thanks to Bill Tignanelli at Admore, the “Fringe” television fan who alerted us, and to all of you for fueling our viral campaign.  (Now please, send this to a friend!)

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter