The Levison Letter

It's time to test a self-mailer


September, 2010

The anthrax scare some years ago changed the direct mail industry fast.

Marketers were very concerned about whether their direct mail envelopes were getting opened by a nervous population. As a result, they took a fresh look at self-mailers which I'll define as follows:

A self-mailer is any mailing that is completely self-contained and doesn't require an envelope. A postcard is a self-mailer. So is a catalog. In fact, there are hundreds of kinds of self-mailing pieces or formats you can use.

During the Anthrax scare, a self-mailer eliminated the envelope problem and was a boon for concerned mailers! But self-mailers have other important things going for them that make them worth a second look today.

The great advantage of a self-mailer is that it's cheap.

Your printer just takes a single sheet, prints it, folds it, and you're ready to roll. This means you won't have to print a number of pieces and then stuff them into an envelope. You can forget about creating sales letters, reply devices, second letters, and so on. (With an envelope package, costs mount quickly and it's easy to spend a fair amount of your tight budget putting a hard-hitting piece together.)

The self-mailer is a good choice for making announcements.

No wonder retailers use them at sale time. It's also easy for the prospect to unfold a self-mailer. There's no envelope to tear open so you know that you stand a good chance of getting the reader into the body of your message.

Marketers should (generally) restrict the self-mailer format to lead-generation activities. Are you offering a free demo disk, a CD, or a brochure? Are you trying to drive someone to your Web site or offering an irresistible White Paper? A self-mailer can be an effective way to go. You can communicate the offer crisply and cleanly. There's not a whole lot of selling that you have to do.

IMPORTANT: I would rarely use a self-mailer to sell a product "off the page." If you have to communicate a complex or persuasive message, the self-mailer just
doesn't give you the raw space you need or the variety of enclosures that get your cash register ringing.

Here are a few things to consider next time YOU decide
to put a self-mailer to work. (Please note that this is a list of ideas to get you thinking - not a comprehensive collection of "must-include" elements.)

  • Make the call-to-action clear and compelling on the front panel
  • Announce news

  • Use bullets to organize benefits

  • When you use photography, illustrations, or cartoons,
    don't forget captions

  • Include testimonials

  • List companies who use your product

  • Include highlights of rave product reviews

  • Reproduce award logos

  • Include your guarantee

  • Include a personal note from the president of the

  • Add a bonus offer for fast response

  • Include offer expiration date

  • Don't forget to sell the offer as well as your


Do you need me to write a self-mailer for you? Give me a call and let's talk about how I can write a killer self-mailer, letter, email, Web copy, whatever for your business. Give me a call at (415) 461-0672 and let's talk. My fees are affordable and my copywriting can make you money. CLICK HERE for proof!

P.S. Want to see the long list of books that quote me? CLICK HERE!

How to get in touch . . .
Phone: (415) 461-0672
Fax: (415) 461-7738
Visit my Web site


Ivan Levison. Direct Mail, Email & Advertising Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive, Greenbrae, CA 94904
Phone (415) 461-0672      Fax: (415) 461-7738

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