OF ALL forms of direct advertising the envelope enclosure is the least expensive. Its distribution cost is nothing, and its manufacture is not very costly. In no case does it cost more to print than the small folder or card, which it really is, and in a not inconsiderable number of cases both the paper and printing may be had substantially free. If, for example, you are ordering a piece of advertising in which special circumstances make it desirable to use a size of paper that will not cut economically from the stock, the trim can readily be used for envelope enclosures, which are almost always of the final folded size of approximately 3 1/4 X 6 /14 inches, so that they will insert in the standard commercial envelope. In these cases the stock costs nothing. If the enclosure is planned at the same time as the major advertisement, it may also be printed at the same time, saving the cost of presswork, which is ordinarily far more than that of the paper. In cases where this procedure is practicable, the only expense of the enclosure will be the additional type work and engravings and a small charge for cutting and handling. In any event the expense will be far less than if the enclosures were manufactured independently.
These considerations are, of course, no argument for wastefulness in the use of paper. The sound practice is to adjust the size of your advertising to economical cuts from standard sheets; but occasions do arise in the career of any advertiser when he will have waste. There is no more practicable method of salvaging the lost material and turning it to a substantial use than that suggested above.
The envelope enclosure goes by various names. Frequently it is called a “stuffier,” because it is put into envelopes containing finished letters before they are sealed for the post. A more descriptive but less generally used name is that of the “postage margin saver.” Enclosures are used almost exclusively in first-class mail, and the sender is entitled to the transportation and delivery of one ounce in return for the two-cent stamp he affixes. The average letter, of course, weighs far less than one ounce. The unused margin, therefore, represents transportation that he has paid for but has not used, exactly as would the freight tariff on a full car which the shipper had left half empty.
If you have nothing more to send than your letter contains, you suffer no real loss. But the fact remains that almost every business house has, or can have, something of real value to send. It can spread the story of its product and it can emphasize its desirability in almost every letter. Herein lies the mission of the envelope enclosure.
Humble and inexpensive though it may appear, the envelope enclosure is really a very powerful and effective advertising factor. A few years ago we decided to employ them as a feature of our campaign for the promotion of Buckeye Cover. Our first step was to procure a series of designs suitable in many instances to the common needs of advertisers. These were arranged for each of the twelve colors in which Buckeye Cover is made, the color of the stock being always used to secure an additional color effect without presswork. We sell our paper through about seventy leading paper houses in all parts of America and Canada. We ascertained the approximate number of names on the customer and mailing lists of each of these establishments, and before the first of each month provide them with a corresponding number of enclosures, imprinted with the name of that establishment rather than our own. The enclosures were thus sent out each month from seventy centers to approximately 70,000 printers and users of advertising. The service was made more interesting by an offer to provide electros of any of the designs at cost, thus enabling the printer or advertiser to put out folders in color without incurring the expense of art and engravings.
The response surpassed our greatest expectations, and we have sent out hundreds of sets of plates to all parts of the country. The direct use of the designs has created a material amount of additional demand for Buckeye Cover; but quite as interesting are the numerous more elaborate pieces of advertising we receive that are obviously based on a suggestion found in the design of an humble little envelope stuffer. We issue a great many fa- more pretentious specimens, to be sure, but for direct, tangible, traceable results we have found no form of advertising more effective than our envelope enclosures. They give us regular contact once a month with almost all of our customers and most of the potential buyers of our paper, and they give to our customers the advantage of such ideas and suggestions for the use of our product as we are able to develop. All of this is accomplished at a cost that is very modest as compared with any other method.
One point must be uppermost in the mind of every advertiser who proposes to use envelope enclosures. They must be light enough in weight to be carried along with his letters at the two-cent rate. Do not be too zealous to use all the margin available. The great bulk of your letters are doubtless written on a single sheet. But you do send out a good many two-sheet letters, and if you are going to put your enclosures in all your mail you will do well to be sure that the combined weight of your envelope, two-sheet letter, and enclosure does not exceed the one-ounce limit. It is not easy to exercise close discrimination in the insertion of enclosures, and if you send to your business connections any considerable number of letters on which there is postage due, you will cause them annoyance that may quite offset all the advantage that you have gained from your advertising. In any case, it is not wise to make your enclosures too voluminous. You do not have to tell your whole story on a single enclosure. Far more will be accomplished by making them a continuing series, developing your story point by point. Brevity is ordinarily desirable. It is better to tell a short story and have it read than to tell a long one to have it discarded because the recipient has not at the moment either the leisure or inclination to give much time to it. Furthermore, each enclosure is a separate reminder of your business, and the cumulative effect of persistence is of greater effect in advertising than in most forms of human activity.
Enclosures on Buckeye Cover are usually made in the lighter-weight stock (of fifty-pound basis weight), and are in the form of folders with one, or at the most two, folds. We vary them now and then by using single cards or single folds of the double thick stock. For any form but the single card the light weight is as a rule more desirable.
Attention value is naturally one of the prime requisites of an enclosure. It is not part of your letter, and in most cases has no direct relation whatever to the things you are saying. It is, there-fore, purely incidental, and must stand on its own merit in claiming the attention of the recipient. This contest for attention is accentuated by the increased use of enclosure advertising. My plumber, grocer and haberdasher now habitually send more than one enclosure with every bill, and the individual enclosure must frequently not only establish its independent claim for attention, but must also compete with others for precedence. This is one of the strong arguments for making your envelope stuffers distinctive. An easy and effective method is by using a paper that has of itself attention value, such as colored cover paper. Our Buckeye Cover enclosures could never have achieved such popularity had they all been printed on white stock.
The main avenues of enclosure distribution are naturally letters that go out at stated periods, and of these the best examples are monthly bills, dividends and checks, and business-soliciting letters. In this way you will get one copy to each of your customers and most of your prospects. If enclosures are inserted promiscuously in all outgoing letters, you are likely to send a dozen or a score of copies each month to some of your business friends with whom you correspond freely. This not only gives the impression of carelessness and inefficiency, but it may become annoying. No man cares to find the same advertisement in every letter that comes to his desk.
If a special mailing list is used the enclosure at once loses one of its main advantagesthat of free delivery. It then rises to the cost of a booklet, so far as distribution is concerned. But it may well go along with other more elaborate advertising or with selling letters that are being habitually sent.
There is a general type of enclosure much in use that may be distinguished from that which is simple advertising. It may be ancillary to your letter and used to emphasize or elaborate the very points about which you are writing. If there are explanations or instructions that are habitually asked or given, why not put them in a carefully prepared enclosure? This will save a vast amount of writing and make it certain that in the haste of dictation you do not omit to say all that should be said. Such an enclosure may be of very special value in answers to inquiries such as most businesses are constantly receiving.
The same comment that has been made on advertising booklets may well be applied to enclosures, except that the enclosure has strict limitations as to dimensions and weight. Apart from these limitations the mailing card, the booklet and the enclosure are all one thing.
While most business letters are enclosed in standard envelopes, and the enclosures for them cannot be larger than 3 1/4 X 6 1/4 inches, there is still a considerable use of the larger envelopes of sizes No. 9 and No. 10. If you are a user of these envelopes you may, if you wish, increase the dimensions of your enclosure; but you must bear in mind that the postal weight limit remains the same. It would be very easy to exceed the one-ounce limit in using large enclosures.
While a large number of businesses can always use enclosures to their profit, it is probable that the greater number of the count-less millions used are not directly distributed by manufacturers. The man who has the most direct contact with the final consumer is the logical person to put them out. For this reason it is customary to adopt the practice of supplying inserts to dealers. They are naturally much more acceptable if they bear the imprint of the dealer and go out as his own advertising. In such cases great care should be taken to have the imprint uniform with the remainder of the piece, and not appear to have been added as an afterthought. A slovenly imprint weakens the effect of the whole piece and substantially reduces the interest of the dealer in using them. No business man likes to give his customers the impression that he is a user of makeshift advertising.
The general principles for determining the use of enclosures and for deciding what they shall contain are exactly the same as those applying to booklets and folders. Neither enclosures nor any other form of advertising can be wisely put out without a definite plan of what you are trying to accomplish. This can come only from a study of your own business and your own market. En-closures may be:
1. Publicity: a regular reminder that you are in business
2. Advertisements of the various items of your line
3. Announcements of new products
4. Explanations of new uses for your product
5. Instructions for use and maintenance
6. Suggestions, such as recipe books
7. Explanations of dealer or customer service
8. Prestige-builders, such as lists of prominent users
9. Testimonials of users
10. Messages of personal contact, appreciation and good-will
The cultivation of the regular customer and the stimulation and enlargement of his buying interest is a prime function of both envelope enclosures and the closely related package insert. While the former may go to a good many people who are not customers, the latter can hardly find its way, in the natural course of events, into the hands of any one except a customer, either regular or casual. The insert may be one of several kinds. It may be put into the original package by the manufacturer, to be found only when the package is opened by the final consumer. In this case it is the manufacturer’s advertisement, but it helps the retailer, even though it does not mention his name, because the customer knows where he bought the package and where he can buy it again. Or it may be an advertisement by the retailer himself, bearing his own name and advertising his entire line or some item in no way connected with that in the package in which the insert is placed. This is purely the retailer’s advertisement. A third form may be an advertisement of the manufacturer, inserted in a case or carton of goods and addressed to the retailer rather than to the final customer. In this case it may contain sales suggestions or information that the merchant and his clerks ought to possess regarding the thing they are offering.
The fundamental idea behind the package insert is not to bring your goods to the attention of new prospects, but to keep your present customers “sold” and to enlarge their interest and patronage. A large department store can supply almost everything a family requires, and it is distinctly to its advantage to bring all its lines to the attention of people who may have already formed the habit of buying one particular requirement from that establishment. The regular customer who buys year in and year out is the greatest asset of any business, and no rational effort to hold and to enlarge his interest is misplaced. Why should the woman who always buys her hats in your millinery department go around the corner for her coat, suit and shoes?
The service idea is the one most frequently and most logically used in package advertising. Pure publicity is not needed here, because the fact that your advertisement goes out in a package is proof that it goes to some one who has been in your establishment, knows where it is and what it is. But he may have come in accidentally simply because he happened to think of something he needed as he was passing your store. The fact that he made one purchase is no assurance that he has any thought of becoming a regular customer. He may know nothing of the standards or spirit of your establishment, of the services you render, or even of much of the merchandise you carry. He wanted a new pair of garters because his hose had come down in front of your door. But when he needs an overcoat he expects to go to his regular store. Perhaps you can tell him, in the insert that you put with his garters, that you have an especially desirable brand of overcoat. You can at least make it known that you are interested in trying to serve him, and that is far more impressive than mere indifference.
While it always travels on a free ticket, the package insert escapes all the physical limitations put upon the enclosure by postal laws. You may use anything that is convenient to carry and is likely to prove useful to your customer and advantageous to your-self. Don’t ignore your own customers. Regular patrons are the backbone of every business success. We have yet to meet a business man who grew rich always serving new people.