I’ve heard that direct mail is the new email. Even if it gets tossed into the garbage can, a direct mail postcard can make its way to your kitchen table and get some decent eyeball time with much more success than that of email marketing. The delete button on a laptop is easier and faster than sorting through the daily mail pile from the postal carrier to identify junk mail.
You are offline when receiving snail mail, typically having just come home from work to relax, so you might spend a few more seconds actually reading that physical postcard in your hand versus the blip of endless digital email marketing promotions cluttering your inbox.
Politicians obviously believe this, taking content marketing to a new level.
In the three months leading up to the tomorrow’s presidential primaries in my state of New Hampshire, I’ve not received any political emails, but have received a total of 89 political postcards. Here’s a quick scan of some of the key messaging trends on these colorful glossy mailers.
A popular trend we know well today feels exhausting, but candidates seem to make headway of some sort with negative advertising against rival candidates.
As you can see in the collection of postcards shown below, the candidates have all used the best of the worst photographic moments of their rivals’ close-up facial expressions to make a strong negative statement using the visual headshot to pull the viewer into and amplify the copy points.
No more 4×6” sized postcards (which now seem vintage). Just like a super-sized fries and soda, we require XL-sized glossy mailings with large graphics to fit the bill. In the collection below, a small postcard is shown at bottom to show the contrast in scale of these grandiose mail pieces (which must be rolled up slightly to fit into the mailbox) which span from fold-out posters to over-sized door hangers.
Beyond bold headlines, visuals and graphic design, a few of the political marketing teams have created some pieces that stand out this time around.
One mailer looks like an official governmental top secret file folder, complete with tab and the look of an old fashioned punched label with topical contents.
The next mailer takes on a TV game show pop appeal with a “wheel of fortune” game wheel that is irresistible to take a spin even if you hate getting political mailers.
The winner of best twisted parody goes to the Godfather movie poster. This mostly black, mini poster as postcard imitates a dramatic movie poster style with a silhouetted illustration of Jeb Bush.
Fun Marketing Gimmicks (or Devices)
Should these clever constructions get the award for `most creative’? As far as a direct mail devices go, these get attention by physical shape and frankly as interactive entertainment.
The first clever mailer is a 3D holographic or lenticular postcard. The surface is coated with an intriguing texture containing hidden messages that appear and disappear upon rotation of the card, representing a flip-flopping image of Marco Rubio.
The second clever mailer is a surprising grand finale that arrived in the mail only days before tomorrow’s primary. Designed as a metaphor for rolling the dice, a large flat four-fold sheath, or invitation-style wrapper, a cardboard cube that pops out of the postcard when opened to land on your table as a fully expanded three-inch cube (activated simply by a rubber band hidden inside). The mailer feels elegant yet dramatic in expressing `who’s it gonna be?’… subtly reminding us to choose carefully and don’t just roll the dice at the polls this Tuesday.