Side view of inappropriately-used USPS Priority Mailer
So I’ve been psychoanalyzing our packaging choices, and what they say about us and our brand to the customer. If you’ve read Inconvenient Truth: When a (Visual) Story > 1000 Words, you’re probably already in agreement that this package (see photo) has a very sad story to tell, and whatever message this Amazon reseller was trying to send me — customer loyalty, trust, good judgment — just got flushed down the toilet because of a poor packaging choice.
This vendor is taking the chance that a) this package will arrive alive and b) that I’ll be too lazy to return or complain about it if it doesn’t. The only thing this company has going for it is that I can’t remember its name since the package has no discernible brand marking on it… All I see is USPS (which has enough baggage as it is).
Everything your customer receives from you tells a story, whether you like it or not. Don’t let your mailroom or your fulfillment company determine whether or not it’s a good one.
-Sari McConnell at email@example.com
I love trees – don’t get me wrong – but I am just now shaking off my Earth Day media hangover. My favorite misguided environmental piece argued the environmental impact of bicycle frame materials: specifically, whether carbon fiber was recyclable or not, and if it was more environmentally responsible to buy a steel bike.
We have been marketing environmentally conscious mailing products for some time. I can say from experience that many companies are missing the environmental mark. Consumers and corporations talk about making purchasing decisions based on environmental factors, but when it comes time to hand over the credit card, everything circles back to price.
I point to the hybrid car market as a perfect example. Sixteen months ago, there was a three month waiting list for a Toyota Prius. Fuel prices were near $4. But now that fuel has dropped to $2, Toyota is offering Prius rebates. Hybrids cost more, and with a sudden drop in fuel costs, hybrid sales went “From 60 to 0 at breakneck speed.” What happened to carbon footprints and dependence on foreign energy?
There is no mystery here. Environmental consciousness is terrific, but at the end of the day, consumers and corporations will only buy an eco-friendly alternative if it performs the same task and costs the same or less than traditional products.
by Bob Makofsky firstname.lastname@example.org
For two years running, FedEx has been selling its custom photo calendars with a Conformer Mailer that features a giftwrap-like printed design and a space for a label. The Conformer paperboard mailer saves $.0.34 in postage because it passes as an automated flat. And the Conformer mailer increased the gift appeal of the Kinkos calendar business by making it convenient to mail out to friends and family.
Since Q4 is the big season for calendars, this product is a timely case study in the importance of thinking through the right mailing solution up front. Here is a quick checklist to make sure your holiday mailing is up for the task:
1 – Postage. New USPS shape-based postage rates means you should avoid the parcel rate, a $0.34 rate premium. Think thin and flexible.
2 – Protection. Damage in the mail is almost always in the corners. Bubble and Tyvek do a poor job of protecting corners. Test mail several samples to be sure it arrives as intended.
3 – Branding. Don’t overlook the branding potential of envelopes and mailers. Think through the design process all the way to the mailbox. Make a first impression that reflects your company image.
by Bob Makofsky