Anatomy of a Compelling Direct Mail Piece

 In Direct Mail

The rising popularity of digital advertising has lead to an growing perception that direct mail is not as valid a form of advertising as it used to be. However, we have found that this is simply not the case, especially in the political sphere. So, what makes for an engaging mail piece in today’s increasingly digital world, you may ask? The answer is not always straightforward, but here are some tips and tricks to help you get there!

Strong images are always good, but not as essential in direct mail as they are in digital. This is because unlike with digital, you don’t need to draw the viewer in as much, because the piece has already been sent to their personal address. Receiving something by mail, as long as it’s not perceived as junk mail, carries a certain weight, especially at a time when we are all inundated daily with visual information online. In addition, we believe it’s best to use high-quality images that communicate your message clearly (if you have to use stock photography, that’s okay, just try to make it as convincingly authentic as possible).

There is an expectation for direct mail pieces to contain more text than digital ads as well. This is partially true — in order to get your audience to click on something online, it shouldn’t be too text-heavy. However, direct mail is meant to be informative, so the amount of text is typically not as much of a concern. That being said, we still believe the most effective mail pieces strike an appropriate balance between text and image.

You’ll notice on these examples below for Kalamazoo’s Yes for Kids! campaign that although there is a fair amount of textual information, the text is broken up by the use of photography. In addition, the use of text on blocks of color and screens of color on images throughout the piece make it engaging to look at while establishing a stronger connection between the type and imagery, which is ideal.

Our mail pieces for Flint Public Library function in a similar way. The bold, bright colors on the front of the piece attract the eye initially while, although on the back there are less images and a lot of type, a clear hierarchy is established, while the most important information is in large bold type, supported by a strong color.

In a mail piece for Sterling Heights, we chose to use bright, engaging photography that highlighted smiling community members of all ages enjoying each other’s company and engaging in scenic local parks and outdoor scenes (see below). We believe these photos make Sterling Heights look and feel like an authentic, fun, family-friendly community.

We also made a piece for AFT-endorsed candidate Darrin Camilleri. We believe this piece was successful because of the way we laid out the clear, concise messaging and broke up the text in a thoughtful way (with the use of bullets, headlines and sub-headers), emphasizing certain pieces.

The crossword mail piece we created for political candidate Jon Hoadley (see below) was an out-of-the-box approach that we thought was effective in grabbing people’s attention. Inspired by the timeless appeal of newspaper crosswords, we took an opportunity to create something out of the ordinary for both political pieces and mail pieces in general.

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Carly Fox is Change Media Group’s Visual Composer. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Carly will graduate from the University of Michigan next year with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Minor in Business. She is excited about combining functions of the left and right sides of the brain by studying the interplay between business and creative practices. Other areas of interest include fashion, writing, painting, and yoga.


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