I spend a lot of time thinking about how people open mail.

With the amount of wedding invitations I do, I’m constantly interested in ways I can make a guest’s experience at her mailbox more interesting and engaging. Add conversion to that and you’ve got the makings of a great direct mail piece.

I remember the first time I open my mailbox and saw something – anything – other than a rectangle. Now, I’m not talking about traditional mail hacking – the idea of slapping postage on things like a basketball or an action figure and sending it to a friend. No, this was direct mail in the shape of a pirate ship.

Customized MarketMail

Several years ago, the United States Postal Service introduced a new classification of direct mail. Customized MarketMail (CMM) is a way for the post office to make a little more money and offer advertising and marketing agencies the ability to squeeze more impact out of the mailbox. CMM allows relatively large mail, die cut into nearly any shape and up to a quarter inch thick to be mailed, in bulk, to marketing list. It opens up a myriad of possibilities.

This mail classification comes at a hefty price. As of today, each piece is $0.459 to mail, in addition to production costs. And the hassle of providing USPS – approved zip + 4 addresses and pre-sorting mail, as well as the 200 piece minimum mean CMM isn’t the best choice for every mailing. However, if you do have a large, well maintained mailing list and are already sending direct mail, the options are nearly limitless.

An Alternative

There is another way to achieve a similar effect for smaller lists. The reason CMM classification is necessary is that large, odd that shaped pieces are non-machinable and the extra effort required to sort and process them comes with extra expense. One way to turn non-machinable mail into machinable mail is by enclosing it in an envelope. A regular envelope will hide your diecut piece and defeat the purpose but a glassine envelope will let it be seen in all its glory. Glassine envelopes provide the same visual impact in the amidst stacks of boring ol’ regular mail, yet the addition of the envelope means the USPS has everything it needs to process your mailing by machine.

Of course, we love adding even more impact through high-end production processes and materials. And we know that the best way to get your mail opened is to have a well-targeted list and provide them engaging, valuable content. However you choose to grab more attention, don’t send spam. It’s just not cool.

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