Making somatosensory sensation work for Letterbox Marketing

by Peter Johnson
10 October 2018

Don't underestimate the tangible nature of Letterbox Marketing, the medium has proven to stay in the minds and homes of customers for longer than an email sits in an inbox.

Think of what happens during a property sale. A real estate agent bakes a large plate of cookies for an open house viewing. People are welcomed into the property with the smell of baked goods evoking comforting, childhood memories of home for the viewers so they instantly like the property. The agent then secures the deal, having played with people’s senses, using smell as well as vision to sell the property.  

Now, think about this in marketing terms. Letterbox Marketing is one of the very few marketing channels with the power of sensory play. When a person picks up any Letterbox Marketing material, they immediately judge it based on imagery, messaging, and its tactile nature. Touch, afterall, can evoke strong emotions in a person. 

However, Letterbox Marketing is not only limited to the sense of touch to influence. With the advent of scented inks and other forms of interactive creative, marketers now can move beyond somatosensory sensation (touch) to include smell, sound and sometimes even taste into their marketing collateral.

This taps into the emotional memories of a person’s mind, enabling marketers to use these creatives to play with people’s senses and establish emotional brand connections with them.

Touch the senses with Letterbox Marketing 

Currently, some brands are taking strides to play with the senses of people in their marketing campaigns. For example, to promote a clothes washing detergent, a flyer can smell like freshly washed clothing. Salmat has produced this for a client, delivering a ‘freshly washed’ scent before the householder even opened their letterboxes. 

So, where should brands start to increase the sensory connection customers experience with their collateral? 

First, brands have a multitude of factors to consider: What weight of paper to use? Are there any special print finishes that can be used? What about the shape of the collateral? 

It is likely that terms such as grammage, finishing and die-cutting will be mentioned. Here are six print terms made simple:

  • Embossing: A process to create raised sections on a piece of printed collateral
  • Debossing: A process to create inverted sections on a piece of printed collateral
  • Scented inks: Choose from existing scents or create one to mimic the smell of a product 
  • Finishing: The value-add to print that affects the appearance of print (ranging from gloss or matt varnishes to innovative and different folding)
  • Die-cutting: The process of cutting a piece of collateral into a shape
  • Paper grammage: Paper measured in grams per square metre

At the simpler end of the scale, paper weight can have a huge impact on the perception of collaral and subsequently, a brand. In the same way that a low price can leave the impression that a product is inferior to a higher priced product, the heavier the paper, the more compelling the assumption that it is a quality piece of print and a quality product. 

Anything’s possible with some creativity

Despite the exciting possibilities, brands are still a little nervous of using the full potential of print. Budget plays a big part in preventing brands from experimenting. 

However, in a market where brand loyalty is low – the Salmat Marketing Report 2018 revealed that Aussie consumers are loyal to between one and four brands only – it is more important than ever to find ways to stand out from the crowd. Scented inks, for example, can be used in more exotic print finishes to perfume marketing collateral, which create associations with brands or products. For example, using leather scented ink can invoke the association with a new car. 

Sampling is another great way to experiment. Targeted letterbox sampling can help increase consumer activity and drive sales. For example, dishwashing tablets – two tablets shrink-wrapped, with a flyer and a special offer inside – can let recipients try the product, register online to activate the special offer, then visit their local supermarket and purchase it at a discount.

Shape is yet another factor to be considered – marketing collateral in the shape of a car for a car dealer or the shape of a ring for a jewellery store, or a coffee-cup shaped fridge magnet from the local café, for instance. 

Bells and whistles like scented ink, sampling, and creatively shaped material are all well and good, but the core tenets of Letterbox Marketing should not be forgotten. This means including a clear call to action. Whether this is a voucher code redeemable in store or online, or simply an announcement of a buy-one-get-one-free offer, it’s imperative to include clear instructions for the reader of where and how they can get the deal. 

Make experiences memorable  

In the same way that printing out an email to read is more likely to stick to our memory, print touches more senses and is therefore, more likely to be remembered. 

The more memorable the experience for the user, the more likely that they are to try a product. Consider a smaller run, but of a higher standard of print. Make the budget work harder by being smarter with print.

Boutique brands have proven more likely to experiment with small, but targeted campaigns – the investment in more elaborate print finishes is particularly suited when promoting high-value items, where one or two sales could justify the whole campaign.

In addition, target the campaign – we at Salmat use our proprietary media planning tool, Swiftplan, to help get the right message to the right person, at the right time.

But remember, when tracking the success of Letterbox Marketing campaigns, be prepared to assess it over a prolonged period beyond a typical digital campaign. Printed collateral, afterall, can live in a home far longer than a promotional email lives in an inbox. 

To learn more about Letterbox Marketing, download the e-book.

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About the author
Peter Johnson

Peter has been involved in the print industry for over 20 years and is now heading up Salmat's print services business. He is experienced in all facets of print and multi channel targeted campaigns. Having worked in the print industry in both the UK and Australia has given Peter a great understanding of the power of print and enabled him to keep up with the latest trends.

More articles by Peter Johnson