You’ve chosen the offer. You’ve picked the message. You’ve selected the audience. Now what is the best and most effective format in which to send your offer and message to your audience/customer?

First, let’s talk goals. The goal of any direct mail piece is to drive responses and revenue. So you first have to ask if your mail piece will make the keeper pile or will your customer throw it in the trash? Does your customer want to read the piece and learn more? Will your audience respond to the mailer, pick up the phone, send an e-mail, and show up? If your audience does all these things, you’ll have a great shot at driving revenue from the mailer.

Here are some different formats to consider:

• Postcard—The standard postcard has a quick turnaround; it is easy to design, print and get out the door. It is a good format to publicize last-minute events, promotions and news. Postcards can be printed and mailed in lots of different sizes. Postcards can be mailed on their own or go inside an envelope (for a VIP event). You can also have a postcard with various printing treatments/ finishes on it such as dimensional printing, gloss coating or a spot varnish. Be sure to ask your printer what treatments can be featured on your specific mailer based on the purpose of that mailer. Also, you can choose from a variety of different paper stocks for your postcard.

• Oversized postcard—As mentioned, postcards come in lots of sizes. I don’t recommend going below a 6-inch x 9-inch format for the sake of visibility and standing out in the mailbox. But for a big party or event, you might want to consider an oversize (11-inch x 8.5-inch or more) postcard to really get the viewer’s attention.

• Postcard in envelope—This is ideal for VIP events, birthday parties, high-end drawings, etc. You can do a nice event on a pearlized cardstock—a fun visual on the front, with all the details on the back. Then put in a matching pearlized envelope with a “teaser” on it like a small image of fireworks to go along with a July 4th-themed event. You can experiment with various treatments to the paper/cardstock, add a die-cut, or try a different stock.

• Letter in envelope—Think about using number 10 envelopes, which are good for high-end, VIP or confidential information. Casinos might send a monthly letter in an envelope to their very top-tier customers since letters have a more personal touch (and don’t forget to use your GM’s signature on the letter). As for content, you could use the letter to invite customers to an event, to tell  them about an upcoming change to your player card program; inform them about a new restaurant that will be opening soon; or use it to talk about the upcoming month’s promotions and events. Either way, you can still have an offer in this letter, but be sure to highlight it, especially if the letter has a lot of copy. You can use bold, all caps or italics as a highlight. You can even put the offer in a box or make it a different color. If you can keep the message/offer generic or the same for all recipients, then your printer can get it out faster. If the letter contains customized offers, then it’s called a “match mailer” and each letter will have to be “matched” with the envelope and, therefore, takes a little longer to get out the door.

• Self mailer—This can be an 8.5-inch x11-inch sheet that gets folded once giving you basically four panels to sell your message. These mailers (along with letters and postcards) can have perforated offers on them. The beauty of the self-mailer is you have a lot of real estate to talk about different promotions/events, yet it’s easy to mail for your printer (since inserting into an envelope is not needed).

 Also remember to keep the message and the copy simple, short and to the point; and make sure your “headline” is compelling to your audience. To recap, the key words to have in mind when you design your next mail piece are simple, easy to comprehend, short and sweet, bright, visually compelling, call-to-action, enticing, and fun!