Sending Self-Mailers: A Timely Strategy for a Stuck-at-Home World

Credit: Brand X Pictures / Getty Images by Tetra Images - Daniel Grill

[Editor’s Note: While originally written for the nonprofit audience, we wanted to highlight this piece on self-mailers, especially for any marketer who may want to consider the benefits of sending this kind of direct mail now]

As a printer by trade, I’ve been working with nonprofits for nearly 30 years, and I know you’re going through challenging times. So in the midst of the big questions you’re likely asking, I wanted to suggest one idea that could help.

It’s called a self-mailer brochure. If you know what that is and you’re working with your printer on one as part of your outreach efforts, then great.

But if you don’t know about self-mailers, I recommend you talk to your printer about why this should be part of your marketing strategy, especially if your resources are more limited now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, consider the marketplace:

  • People are drowning in online communication. You want to strengthen your outreach strategy with a tactic that complements email.
  • People stuck at home are looking for a real-world experience. Direct mail expert Summer Gould says, “We have seen movement in the B2C mail stream as many people are now stuck at home; well-designed and executed direct mail is something they look forward to getting.”
  • Now is not the time to stop. Nonprofit consultant and social entrepreneur Wayne Elsey writes that “this is not the time to stop everything to see how things shake out.” He urges nonprofits instead “to keep connected and top of mind with all of your supporters.”

How Self-Mailer Brochures Work

A self-mailer brochure is a multi-paneled, single piece that integrates a brochure and a return envelope thanks to a perforated, sealable adhesive strip. (Note: That strip can be a seal-and-peel, which means no licking is required.)

Example of a self-mailer brochure

Credit: POV Solution

Self-mailers can help address marketplace trends like those above. But I’m also seeing their advantages in a COVID-19 world.

Reduce costs. Based on my decades of experience, I’ve estimated that a self-mailer brochure can easily save a nonprofit 25% to 30%, if not more. They use less material and take less time to develop and distribute.

In fact, it’s possible to achieve more with less. A self-enclosed mailer brochure has no envelope to lose, which means there’s a better chance for a reply.

On top of that, nonprofits can put a call-to-action, a compelling statistic or an inspiring quote right on the outside of the piece — making it virtually impossible to ignore.

Consolidate messaging. These self-contained mailers can encourage nonprofits to distill their content into a more straightforward — and effective — message.

That was the experience of Eduardo Fuentes from the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York City. “We wanted to cut down on all the different pieces, which can actually be confusing. This mailer was much clearer and to the point. People had an easier time responding to it and because of that. it helped us reach our fundraising goals.”

Repeat success. With budgets tight, successful campaigns are more critical than ever. I’m finding some nonprofits have come to rely on these self-mailers because of the results they generate.

For example, Rita Larkin from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation in Asheville, North Carolina, ordered two additional printings because, according to her, “the donation brochures have been so well-received.”

A Potential Way to Run Leaner and Amp Up Your Efforts

I think these self-mailers could be a crucial cog in any business’s efforts right now — both to run leaner and amp up marketing and/or fundraising efforts.

Again, check with your printer. My guess is they’ll be ready to help you stay connected and keep your mission strong with the help of these unique donation appeals.