Designed To Sell – Letterbox Creative That Drives Sales

by The Salmat Team
18 January 2016


Recent research has found that letterbox media is the most widely read form of print advertising – by 60% of all Australians.

And while the humble letterbox may go against today’s marketing grain of ‘digital first’, many Australian customers consider it to be one of advertising’s most effective channels.  

It’s official. People love getting actual mail!

Stamp your creativity

Someone who shares our enthusiasm for letterbox creative is Patrick Collister, Google’s Head of Design. An avid collector of letterbox media campaigns, Collister has shortlisted 18 amazing letterbox campaigns into a book, I Wish I’d Thought of That.

In this article, we’ll draw from some of those examples to help inspire the creative cut through on your next letterbox campaign.

But first, let’s take a quick look at the creative anatomy of the standard print catalogue, and what works.

Fancy a flick-through?

First of all, standard doesn’t equal boring. Quite the opposite, actually!

Here are just some of the qualities that make a good print catalogue, great – from the design, to the copy and stock, when it comes to making an impact, it really is all in the details.

Choose simplicity

A clean typeface, clear images – modern catalogues are increasingly embracing clean designs, choosing instead to play with textures (like embossing) to draw the eye and encourage the reader to pick it up

Throw shapes

There’s no rule that says your catalogue has to be rectangular. Geographic cut outs, interesting shapes, clever fold-outs – you can really play-up a call-to-action by calling it out with interesting cuts.

Make it loud and clear

Now is not the time to be shy. Put your CTA on every page (maybe a ‘big version’ on the front and back cover, with ‘mini versions’ scattered throughout). You can use this as a way to build your database, too. A simple SMS CTA like ‘text your email address to >insert number< to get $20 off your next order’ will help drive conversions and make sales.

Be materialistic

Your stock says a lot about you. For example, recycled materials allude to an environmentally friendly attitude, while a heavier GSM makes for a suitably luxe effect.

Play with perspective

Just like you don’t need to be rectangular (or one dimensional, for that matter - 3D pop-up anyone?), your typography doesn’t need to run linear. Different angles draws the reader in, and adds some serious wow factor while you’re at it.

Appeal to the senses

In India, Lass Natural Cosmetics decided to play on the fact that their brand uses fewer artificial preservatives, which means its products tend to have a shorter shelf life than its competitors.  

In order to move old product quickly, the brand created a die-cut sales coupon fashioned out of real leaves. Over a day or two, the leaves dried out and the message quite literally decomposed in front of the reader’s eyes.

As a result, 70% of the coupons were redeemed and the company recorded its highest ever sales of sell-by-date stock. At the Asia Spike Awards, the Young Creatives Academy voted this their Best In Show over other TV, Digital, Ambient or Print advertising campaigns.

wish i thought

Why it works:

  • Organic, natural flyer materials stay true to brand
  • Quick perish gives customers a sense of urgency to redeem their voucher
  • Environmentally conscious design appeals to customer sentiment.

Let your imagination run free

Your letterbox campaign is only limited by your imagination - the possibilities for presentation are endless. This is something that French martial arts magazine, Karate Bushido, knows only too well.  

Looking to increase subscriptions, Karate Bushido delivered a subscription renewal to 3,000 homes on a wooden plank, asking people to break the plank in half. With just this one piece of collateral, the magazine experienced a 23% uplift in renewals. Brilliant!

wish i thought

Why it works:

  • Follows the no.1 rule: the more creative you are, the more likely you are to stand out
  • Makes a clear statement about the brand personality
  • Urges a response that is both fun and purposeful.

Go big or go home

Think outside the box - quite literally! Taking your letterbox campaign into another dimension is an extremely effective way to grab attention or instantly convey your message.

To help the UK Government reach its carbon emissions reduction target, Energy Savings Trust created ‘The Tenant Empowerment Training Toolkit’ for housing associations. To encourage these associations to order the toolkit, they created a large white box printed with the message: less hot air, more action.

When the box was opened, a helium balloon arose which read, “Leaving a light on for just 40 minutes released this much CO2 into the atmosphere.” The results were just as hard to ignore - of those that received the box, 40% ordered the associated toolkit.

wish i thought

Why it works:

  • It takes ‘surprise and delight’ to a whole new level - who would expect a balloon to pop out of a box?
  • It’s a fun way to make a clear statement about a dry subject matter
  • It isn’t gratuitous - the message (less hot air, more action) clearly suits the medium (balloon).

Create a quirky call-to-action

An effective letterbox drop makes people want to do something. It might be visiting an online store, signing up to a email list, or… switching off the lights?

New Zealand-based energy company, Genesis, took their call-to-action one step further when they designed a letterbox campaign to help their customers reduce their bills and energy consumption.

The idea executed by agency Draft in NZ saw flyers with fluorescent ink printed and delivered to people’s mailboxes. Recipients literally had to turn off the lights to read the message!

wish i thought

Why it works:

  • A letterbox campaign that isn’t a strong call-for-action is a missed opportunity...
  • ...but this one keeps the CTA playful and clever
  • It’s intriguing - whoever picks it up is almost certainly going to turn off the lights and read the message.

Make it for keeps

If you can make people want to touch, hold and keep your flyer, you’re halfway there. So when Jeep wanted its new Cherokee to appeal to those with an adventurous nature, Leo Burnett Brasil created a letterbox campaign that dropped off objects from a foreign country into letterboxes.

Research conducted by Royal Mail and Canada Post has shown that customers are keeping the mail they receive - to display and share with others. This campaign took it one step further by suggesting people may like to return the objects, a twig, stone and some water, to the countries they belonged to. Those that returned the objects were set up in hotels by Jeep.

Even if customers decided to throw the rock in the yard, the point has been made – this Jeep can take you anywhere and that’s a solid testimony to the power of a good idea.


Why it works

  • It’s not only eye-catching, but completely appeals to the customer’s sense of touch
  • Effectively piques a sense of excitement and adventure, which is key to the brand
  • Encourages customers to keep, display and share the campaign with others.

Feeling inspired yet? Talk about the unlimited creative possibilities of unaddressed mail.

In Australia, letterbox media needs a champion. We know that creative talent abounds in this country, they just need to be inspired and encouraged to embrace the letterbox as an avenue for incredibly creative and impactful campaigns. So, will yours be next?

Reach new customers with a creative letterbox campaign. Learn about Salmat's letterbox marketing services here or call us on 1300 725 628.


About the author
The Salmat Team

Salmat is a leading Australian marketing services provider. We help clients connect with their customers, week-in, week-out. Salmat's unique combination of targeted letterbox and online marketing channels enables clients to Reach, Convert and Serve their customers. We also provide a wide range of back office solutions, through our Philippines-based Managed Services business.

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