Direct Mail: What You Can’t See Can Hurt You


Direct-mail-what-you-cant-see-can-hurt-you.jpgWe’ve all heard, “what you don’t know can hurt you.” But sometimes it’s what you don’t see that can hurt you—or at least hurt the response to your direct mail efforts. It’s why good design is essential to direct mail success. Here’s an example of what I mean.

A week or two ago I was driving through town and saw a brightly colored billboard with a compelling message. It was attractive and intriguing, and it caught my eye. The billboard was obviously there to generate a response. The problem was that the call to action (in this case the name, location and phone number) was obscured. But it wasn’t a physical obstruction; it was a design flaw that kept me from reading the important information and responding.

The designer had used a small, red typeface on a black background for the organization’s name, address and phone number, making the information very difficult to read. The thing is, it was a great-looking billboard. It did a great job of grabbing my attention. But it failed in one of its most important tasks: to get me to call.

What’s that got to do with direct mail? So often these days, the mailings businesses send out are what you might call “mini billboards.” Card mailings make up a significant percentage of what we mail at TMR Direct. But if key elements (such as the call to action or a link to a landing page or the offer) are obscured by poor design, the card doesn’t do its job.

Sometimes the design looks great on the graphic designer’s screen, but doesn’t print with the same intensity. In other cases, a designer may place a piece of vital information in an area that gets obscured by the printing of a bar code at the post office. And sometimes a designer is concerned that featuring a piece of information prominently ruins the look and feel of the piece. But good design in direct mail is a combination of aesthetics and effectiveness. That’s why you never want to skimp on good design for your direct mail pieces – and why you want to enlist the services of someone who understands direct mail design.

Direct Mail Best Practices