The Role of “Lumpy Mail” in B2B Digital Direct Marketing

February 27, 2014

How a Direct Mail technique can get a digital response


Every successful Direct Mail Marketer knows that “lumpy mail” doubles the response of “flat mail”. Lumpy mail is anything with more volume, larger dimensions, weight, texture or bumps than normal mail. It might even make noise when shaken.

Successful B2B Direct Mail Campaign for WYANDOT Inc.

Lumpy mail gets better results because it peaks curiosity. What could be inside? Is it a gift? Most recipients will open lumpy mail, because they just have to know.

I would argue that this technique could be just as useful in the digital arena. To me there is no difference between offering a small gift or surprise in an envelope or offering it by Email. The trick is to be creative about how you package and deliver your content.

Here are the 3 things you should do to get results from Lumpy Emails:

Offer a Surprise

In Digital Direct Marketing, Email is the closest thing to mailing a letter to someone’s house, and your subject line is the envelope. Don’t waste those few precious words telling the reader about your brand. Instead, entice your customers with the promise of a gift or the ability to do something fun. Remember the “Elf Yourself” campaign OfficeMax launched in 2006? Imagine emailing a customer to invite them to elf themselves. That’s pretty lumpy Email, if you ask me. Try to think of something similar that reflects your brand or current campaign.

Keep it Light

You’ve gotten your customer to open your lumpy Email. Now what? You don’t want to lose them by switching into sales mode. Keep it light and give them what you promised. Whether it’s a silly online game, the ability to create an avatar or a link to a funny YouTube video, make sure what’s inside is as funny or interesting as they expect. Ideally, tie it back into your brand. The idea is to sponsor a little bit of fun in exchange for their attention. Once you’ve delivered that fun, they will be more open to your call to action.

Ask for What You Want

Like any marketing campaign, decide what you want the customer to do and deliver that message last. If you want them to call your office, take your call, visit a website, or provide personal information, make it crystal clear. You gave them something, so they will be more likely to return the favor.

Have you ever sent something you considered to be Lumpy Email? Was it successful? Share your comments and stories with me by emailing I’ll share your responses in a future post.

Use Video for Integrating Your Digital Advertising and Marketing Communications

January 31, 2013


Remember story time? The late night bed time reading that kept you alert before sleep or the engaging class room story with picture books and sound effects made by your teacher. The years have faded away since then but the stories live on. That’s our goal at Clay Creative…to tell the story of your brand to make an ever lasting impression on your audience.

film_countdown_postcard-p239939635109173100envli_400The great part of this business is that story time never ends and it’s our job to keep your audience turning the pages inside the book we call your brand.

Chapter 1: Why use video to tell the story of your brand?

Integrating video into your online marketing efforts is vital for your growing business. Todays generation is driven by an urge to express their interests, hobbies and point of view and social media is the vehicle for most of this expression. Words are the ultimate force behind conversation but photos and videos are taking their place and are becoming much more search engine friendly.

  • Video helps your customers relate to you on a more personal level
  • Video connects with people on a deeper level: The audio and visual representation of your products and services will make stronger connections than wordy descriptions or pictures.
  • It is more common for search engines to pick up on key words in your video and this results in higher SEO rankings.

Chapter 2: Tell stories with videos to make life easier for your audience.

Prospective customers tend to know very little about you and have come to your site to learn how you can help them. They are strapped for time so you must make their navigation experience as easy as possible. Videos can accomplish what paragraphs of text can in 2 minutes or less.

  • Your video must provide value to the viewer and the best way to do this is to teach them something new. 
  • Create FAQ videos to answer the most commonly asked question about your products and services. For example, if you are a bakery, you may record an answer on “The best cakes to bake for catering to large parties or events”.
  • Record a video on how to best use your product or service or to highlight product benefits. Apple consistently uses video to tell the story for every new product release and it works by engaging the viewer and alluring them to the bells and whistles of their latest technology.
  • Pick a focus for your video and do not try to explain 15 things in 60 seconds.

Chapter 3: How to differentiate content for B2B and B2C

The content and strategy of your video must be tailored to your audience and this depends on whether you’re targeting businesses or consumers. The key point to acknowledge is that businesses are people too. Remember businesses that market to other businesses are relationship driver and businesses that market to consumers are product driven. Here is a list to understand the video content you should use depending on your audience.

  • B2B videos should outline your company objectives, mission statement and history.
  • Focus on product attributes and services for your B2C videos.
  • B2C marketing is usually more products driven so focus on appealing to the emotional side of the consumer.
  • B2B sales are usually longer cycle sales so it’s important to be in-depth in describing your company’s core attributes and success stories.

Use video to tell the story of your brand and highlight your products and services but remember to use the visual medium with a mixture of all types of media. Pictures and shared content can be used to support your video. Our brains are hardwired to make a story out of all of the information we consume so give your audience a reason to connect with you on an emotional level. With content sharing at its highest peak companies must embrace visual story telling through media. Recent research from ROI shows that 44% percent of respondents are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures and videos.

Please take our short poll:

Inside The Relationships Advertising Agencies Create

June 28, 2012


Brands, relationships and results are in our DNA and Clay Creative has weaved them together to influence the world of advertising and marketing from a new perspective. Collectively, they are a power trio that reinvents the way your business gets from point A to point B. In today’s fast and technological driven environment, brands are born, relationships are made and results are provided, INSTANTLY.

As we focus on the “relationships” aspect of our tagline we will explore the obstacles that advertising agencies must over come.

We must create strong relationships with our audience as often as possible and take advantage of every outlet that gives us the opportunity to do so. Securing relationships with your audience has moved far beyond the handshake and into the world of social media…

Check out the top 3 social media tools to stay connected with your audience: 

  1. Facebook: Use facebook as a company playground and online meeting place. Build a reputation by posting pictures, stories and videos about your workplace. Update your facebook regularly with posts related to your industry and brand personality.
  2. Youtube: Web surfers are attracted to video like wave surfers are attracted to killer waves! Create a youtube channel for your company and upload video about your business to the channel. Request comments and feedback.
  3. PinterestThe audience on Pinterest is different from the major social networks because most people use it to find inspiration. Pinterest is being used to help guide buying decisions. If a user finds something they like on Pinterest, there is a good chance they will at least click the source link and, at most, make a purchase.

Conversations are just words away and it’s important to implement social media tools into building relationships but there is one question to address. “Does social media help build relationships or just contribute to general communication”?

Let’s review our definitions:

Communication: The imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.

Relationship: The way in which two or more people are connected or the state of being connected.

Clay Creative takes a full circle approach to communication and building and maintaining relationships. We understand how effective online communication can be and we use that knowledge to help your business reach your target on the web. We also understand the power of building trustworthy relationships through face-to-face communication and our doors are always open for us to do just that.

“Never underestimate the difference between social media “communication” and the real thing. Tone of voice, body language, facial expression, and other nonverbal cues can be as important as the words you choose, and they help build the kind of understanding that brings people closer together. You can get a general impression of someone from Facebook status updates, but it may or may not reflect who they actually are, and it’s never more than skin-deep.”

In other words, social media may not be the best fit for every audience. A personal approach is more efficient  for building B2B relationships. Social media is a 21st century phenomena that enables rapid flow of communication that can be used for quick day to day business to customer interaction but face-to-face communicating remains much more effective to grow a brand from the inside out.

25 Steps to Avoid a Direct Marketing Disaster

July 12, 2011

1. Start with an effective mailing list. You might have the best creative design and copy in the world, but your campaign is destined for failure without a solid mailing list. Make the appropriate investment from the beginning—even before you write or design the piece. Don’t overlook the many benefits of developing a list of established customers and prospects.

2. Test. Test. Test. This is one time that experience does not predict future results. Instead, test everything you do, including your customer list. Trial and error make it possible to determine what works—and what doesn’t.

3. Personalize your communication with a letter. Whether you’re reaching out via email blast, landing page or regular mail, always include a letter. Recipients are more inclined to respond to communication they perceive as being more personal. Not sure that’s the case? Then test it against letter-less mailings and measure the difference.

4. Use features and benefits where appropriate. While it’s true that benefit-driven copy is often the preferred approach, it’s even more important to tailor your message to your audience. That’s because in some instances features outweigh benefits, especially in B2B environments where the topics may be more technical.

5. Give them an offer they can’t refuse. Every direct marketing campaign should include an offer, and it must be a good one to elicit the desired response. Free sample? Premium service? Better guarantee? Whatever you decide, make sure your direct marketing package sells the offer and not the product or service. Make the offer enticing, easy to find, and as simple as clicking the mouse.

6. Develop a desirable product or service. Your direct marketing campaign may rock, but without a good product or service to back it up, failure is inevitable. Make sure you’re pitching something that people either need or want.

Highlights for Children

7. Write copy with your audience in mind. Think about the recipient of your direct marketing piece. Determine that person’s problems, concerns and daily issues. Then approach him or her with honest, believable content that addresses those needs in easy-to-understand language that gets right to the point.

8. Write direct marketing copy—not a corporate piece. Make a conscious decision to create content that doesn’t bore the recipient with wordy corporate jargon. Too much corporate language turns the reader off, which in turn lowers your response rate.

9. Cover your copy bases. You may have only five seconds to grab your recipient’s attention. To ensure success, include enough information to answer questions quickly and efficiently. Place a heavy emphasis on eye-catching headlines and subheads that stand out. Craft each word carefully.

10. Get to the point. Don’t burden your letter with wordy openers that attempt to be clever. Instead, trim it down and supply the key information up front. It’s been said that 90 percent of all direct marketing would be more effective without the first sentence or first paragraph.

11. Form a good marriage between copy and graphics. Don’t let one dominate the other. Instead, create a seamless blend of words and illustrations that draws the recipient to the offer.

CTB McGraw-Hill

12. Pay close attention to color schemes. Color can significantly impact the recipient and affect how he or she might respond. That’s why it’s important to consider several things when selecting the right colors for the piece, such as the season, audience—even the type of product or service.

13. Don’t save the best for last. Time is critical, so knock their socks off in the beginning. Have a great offer? Share it up front. Got an incredible product or service? Let them know about it from the get-go. Ask the burning questions, dazzle them with the facts, and pique their curiosity right away.

14. Include a time limit that matters. An offer with a clearly stated timeframe is much better than a vague, barely believable approach. Instead of saying “Limited time only,” create a sense of urgency with “Offer ends August 31, 2011.”

15. Capitalize on the power of a postscript. It is an extremely effective way to summarize your offer and recap your message.

16. Grab the recipient’s attention with an unusual shape or unique illustration. This is an effective way to ensure that your piece stands out from the rest of the pack.

17. Use your direct marketing real estate wisely. Certain areas of any mailing are associated with high readership—near the recipient’s name on the front of the outer envelope, the back of the outer envelope, and above the salutation. Consider this an opportunity to place key information where it will get noticed.

Ashland Chemical

18. Create a clear call to action. In this digital age, submitting a response is easier than ever before. Provide your recipients with a menu of response options that are relevant and easy. It’s as simple as determining the desired response behavior and then tailoring your call to action accordingly.

19. Make it easy to respond. Closely pair the recipient’s name with the opportunity for a positive response. This is best accomplished by teaming up powerful icons to create a headline that encourages visual lingering.

20. Include an easy-to-follow roadmap. If recipients have trouble following your instructions and aren’t sure about how to respond, you’ll lose their attention in a heartbeat. Use clear directions and structure the campaign in a straightforward manner.

21. Determine if your direct mail is getting past the gatekeeper. If you suspect that your piece is being screened by another individual, conduct a follow-up test to determine if this is the case. Remember, your piece is intended for a specific audience.

22. Check for obvious mistakes before sending. It’s easy to overlook unsuspecting errors. But nothing kills a campaign quicker than printing the wrong reply phone number or forgetting to include an important link. Check and re-check for any possible errors to ensure that the entire campaign runs smoothly and effectively.

23. Review your own samples. Seed your list with the names of everyone on your team to ensure that everything is being delivered as it should. It’s the only way to determine unforeseen problems, like a postal barcode that covers up key information.

24. Track accurate results. Make sure you’re doing everything possible to ensure that your results are statistically valid. Errors can surface easily when data is being collected and calculated, so maintain meticulous records throughout the campaign.

25. Re-think your product or service. If you’ve conducted a seamless direct marketing campaign and your results are less than you expected, it may be time to re-evaluate the product or service you’re selling. Direct marketing doesn’t work magic; a good product or service still has to deliver.

Direct Marketing Success Story: Glencoe McGraw-Hill
Clay Creative was charged with the task of creating a dimensional, direct-mail piece that targeted teachers. The goal was to generate interest in a new language arts textbook by first offering a free interactive CD-ROM. A business reply card gathered additional information about the recipient, including the option to obtain a free sample of the textbook and permission to contact the recipient via email.

To gather initial input for the piece, Clay Creative organized teacher focus groups where they shared four mock-ups of the mailer. Based on the teacher input, the professionals at Clay Creative suggested an eye-catching, dimensional piece in an unconventional size. Careful attention was given to color, shape and content, ensuring that all components came together to create a piece specifically formulated for the target audience.

McGraw-Hill Education

“This has been one of our most successful lead-generator campaigns in over 10 years, bringing in more than 1,000 responses almost immediately. The piece has also captured the attention of other departments because of its intriguing design.”

Rugenia Henry, Marketing Manager, McGraw-Hill Education