Thursday, May 25, 2006

When Should You Use a Teaser?

Teaser copy has been around as long as advertising. Teaser copy is so much a part of our everyday lives that we often overlook it. It’s the 70% OFF sign in the store window. Or, the description on the back of a book jacket. It’s even as simple as the headline on an ad.

How the outer envelope is treated can be the difference between the success and failure of a direct mail program. Here are some examples of when I recommend to put teaser copy on the outer envelope:

A mailing to non-customers.
People who aren’t your customers won’t recognize your company and may not feel the need to look at your mailing. A teaser is necessary to help draw them in.

A highly promotional offer. If you’re mailing a free sample or a sweepstakes offer, it seems silly not to blast that fact on the envelope.

An oversized mailing. A mailing in an oversized envelope is more likely to be opened and read if it has teaser copy on the outside. Because of the odd size, the recipient is going to recognize it as something promotional.

Here are some examples of when I might NOT use teaser copy:

A mailing to customers.
Teaser copy may not necessary on mailings to established customers. Name recognition is enough to get the envelope opened. In fact, a teaser will tip them off that you’re sending promotional materials. However, there are times when you can be promotional to your customers. For instance, if your offer is special or exclusive to customers or if you’re promoting a customer contest.

A mailing to businesses.
It might be good to keep your mailing low-key to make it past the office gatekeeper. If it looks too much like advertising, it may get trashed. However, on the reverse side, your envelope may need to get attention in order to make it through to the recipient. It often requires some testing and past experience to determine which approach is right for a particular situation.

A mailing with name recognition.
If your name is powerful enough, any additional copy on the envelope may sap out strength. For instance, a mailing with The Attorney General, Joe Smith–Chairman of the Board, or a
nationally known corporate name in the return address corner may be able to stand on its own to get the mailing opened. I would recommend a test to make sure the name can stand on its own.

In fact, even these examples of when to use teasers and when not to may not be right all the time. It really depends on the circumstances of your mailing. I always recommend testing your mailings and your teaser copy to see what works best for you.