Recently, I received a piece of direct mail from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They sent me a holiday-themed letter, but it was the envelope that caught my attention. It was bright red with an image of a penguin wearing a hat and scarf on it. A string of Christmas lights danced along the edges, around the penguin, and even to the other side of the envelope. It was very colorful and aesthetically pleasing from every angle. The front side had a window with my name and address displayed and included a written message that said “Will you please send a Christmas card to a St. Jude Child? We’ve enclosed one for you to send.” I remember reading about this organization and know their funding goes to good use. I couldn’t ignore it.
I opened the envelope carefully, trying not to rip it in half. Inside was a photo of a St. Jude patient and a pre-written note for me to sign that said, “Merry Christmas from ______.” I signed it and sent it back in the provided business envelope along with a small donation.
Why did this particular direct mail piece get a response from me? It was the envelope. If it were a plain white package that simply asked me for money without giving context, I probably would have discarded it. This one spoke to me on a personal level. The use of red as the primary color peaked my interest and ignited my holiday spirit. The penguin icon appealed to my inner child, and the string of colorful Christmas lights around it gave a happy vibe. The teaser copy asking me to send a gift to a St. Jude child drew on my emotions, and it was easy since the gift was enclosed. All it needed was my signature.
This beautiful envelope caught my attention and encouraged me to open it and read its contents. I will keep this as a reference for how all organizations, especially non-profits, should do their direct mail. Envelopes are the first thing consumers see, so make sure you put as much effort into what motivates the recipient to open the envelope, as to what is inside.