The Architecture of Mail

April 11, 2017
Randy Kammerdiener

There is so much that goes into creating an effective piece of direct mail. Planning, targeting, photography, and creative all pay a role, but a successful direct mail piece begins with a strong foundation.

Let’s look at some of the most popular direct mail sizes.

The Postcard

Advantages: 
One of the most common sizes of direct mail, the 5.5x11 postcard is efficient and effective. The postcard is an easy size for the recipient to handle but just large enough to stand out from the letter packages and other pieces in the mailbox.

Disadvantages:
The small space of a postcard, even one sized at 5.5x11, demands you get the reader’s attention immediately and deliver the message in a well-written and well-designed creative theme. Without the space of a larger piece to work within, you need powerful creative to get to the point of your message quickly and in a memorable and easy-to-understand way.

The Flat

Advantages:
The flat excels at making its presence known in the mailbox. The 8.5x11 flat is unencumbered by folds and mails and delivers as-is to stand out in the pile of clutter each day. With nearly equal room on both sides for text, photography and art, the flat provides a large canvas for creative messaging.

Disadvantages:
Postage, postage, postage. The USPS charges extra for the 8.5x11 flat as an oversized piece of direct mail. The difference on postage between bulk letter and bulk flat rate postage can be as much as $.10 per piece. That adds up on larger runs and for those with a limited budget. The work around? Planning, targeting and drop shipping can all help make the flat more affordable in the big picture. Learn more on that here.

The Fold

Advantages:
The “fold” is an all-encompassing term for any piece with a single fold, typically an 8.5x11 or a 10.5x11. Finishing similar in size to a postcard, the fold holds its own in the mailbox, mails at letter rate and provides a wealth of space for creative messaging. In fact, the fold excels at creative impact, as the transition from the cover to the inside of the piece allows for more intrigue and interest with the delivery of the message.

Disadvantages:
Don’t be tempted by the larger size of the 10.5x11 singlefold. Let your message breathe. Allow art and images that pull the reader in to dominate the space. Text needs be sharp, organized and led by a strong tagline and equally compelling call to action on both the inside and mail panel.

Looking for direct mail that’s a little different? Take a look at the barrel fold here, and then head over here to get started with us today.