I am new to the marketing and promo business and I read with much interest the article on Lumpy Mail: An Engine for Lead Generation. I enjoy creating ideas and programs such as this and have already learned from you in this article. I do have one question that I hope you can shed some light on. When you send an item, to the extent that it lends itself to it do you use a printed item or a blank item and just let the item and letter do the talking. For instance, the hockey puck or volleyball. Did you have that printed with your clients information (i.e. name, message, etc)? Thanks for the time and any other hints that you might kick back to me are much appreciated.
Glad you liked the article, and thanks for writing. I avoid printing on the enclosed item. That way, the item creates more curiosity, leading recipients to read the sales letter. The moment you print anything on the item, even your company name, it begins to look like a promotional item whose job is to put your name in front of someone, thus reducing the curiosity factor.
Another mistake to avoid is what I call a "payoff headline." Placing an item in a box with a great headline on the outside is good. Putting a headline inside that gives away your message is bad. Suppose, for instance, that you enclose a tennis ball. A good headline on the outside of the box might be, "WHACK! (Details inside.)" But if on the inside of the box lid you print, "We could make a great match," you've just alleviated any need to read the letter. (Not to mention the fact that wimpy puns like that make for awful strategy.)
For examples of well-crafted (if I say so myself) lumpy mail letters, click here. Clicking on any of the images will bring up the letter so you can read it.
Followup from Thomas:
One last question if you don't mind. Where do I find postal regulation or guideline related to mailing "lumpy mail" or is all of it contained in a box or envelope as a standard piece of mail. The reason that I ask is that years ago I received a tennis shoe in the mail. It had a mailing tag attached with a postage label on it though it was not "packaged" in any way. Anything you can add to this is much appreciated.
My experience has been that you can address, stamp and mail just about anything, as long as it's non-hazardous and not likely to fall apart en route. You also need to watch for state regs. For instance, sending produce to California or Hawaii is tricky, and sending alcohol to Utah is flat-out illegal. It's always wise to check in advance with a business mail specialist at your main Post Office. They won't guarantee their answer, but it's usually reliable. You may have noticed that we mailed the volleyball without a box. We just shrink-wrapped an addressed envelope to the ball. We did the same thing some years earlier when we mailed frisbees for Wells Fargo. Each time, however, I called my USPS rep be sure it would be OK. (I pity the letter carriers who had oodles of volleyballs rolling around in the back of the truck, much less had to carry them from office to office.)