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“The envelope has become like a billboard. It’s all about putting a relevant message in front of the right person."
Ash Ready, OfficeMax Database and Strategy Manager
Envelopes don’t have a glamorous reputation. For most people, they are little more than paper receptacles – but for Ash Ready, OfficeMax’s Database and Strategy Manager, they’re a valuable marketing tool.
“Before, with a plain envelope, if it didn’t get opened that was a dollar in the bin. Now, even if it doesn’t get opened, your customers still see the message on the envelope,” he says.
Ash is talking about the eye-catching messaging now available through First Impressions, New Zealand Post’s customised business envelope service.
First Impressions allows business customers to bring their regular or promotional mailouts to life. Customers can apply unlimited variations of their own envelope designs, so they can carry tempting offers.
“The envelope becomes a teaser as to what’s inside, or an educational tool showing products that the customer may not have otherwise associated with OfficeMax,” says Ash. “If it says there’s free chocolate or food when you buy stationery, you get a fairly high success rate. It’s Marketing 101 stuff.”
Office Max provides a vast range of office supplies nationally through direct sales, catalogues, e-commerce and retail stores. Its products also include paper, technology products, packaging supplies and equipment, health and hygiene products, first aid, cafeteria supplies and machines and furniture.
Ash says First Impressions allows the company to quickly and easily change envelope designs each time it does a mailout to its customer database, segmenting by, for example, purchase history, industry or location.
“In one month you might have 10 or 15 envelope variations. I brief our Mac operator who uses the image library to design them. It might tie in with a promotional theme – for example, in May it might be all about packaging so we offer packaging deals to the appropriate industry. Matt in the warehouse isn’t interested in pink lever Arch files, so we show things on the envelope relevant to his needs like safety gear or packaging products.”
He says the designer sends the envelope designs for each mailout to New Zealand Post, which prints the letter and the address with the personalised images on the envelopes, and despatches them.
“They can do it in five working days at a pinch – we supply the data on Monday, with lodgement on the Friday – though we usually give them eight working days.”
Previously, customised direct mailing was more difficult to organise and had to be carefully planned in advance. “Now it’s all variable and done on the fly,” Ash says. “It’s only limited by how many variations of the artwork you want to do or the segments in your data.”
Thanks to the flexibility available through New Zealand Post’s on-demand digital printing, First Impressions customers are only billed for what they use.
“A lot of people would ask, why aren’t we just doing everything digitally? But the reality is, smart direct mail still performs well in a digital world – First Impression’s variable printing on envelopes have helped us evolve,” says Ash.
OfficeMax also use NZ Post to check and correct the addressing information in the mailing list database. This process is highly accurate. The end result is that returns are reduced to less than 0.05%.
OfficeMax also applies a code to each of the envelopes so that the returns can be given to the relevant account manager who then has fresh information about which customers have inaccurate addresses in the database.
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