All About Self Mailers

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What's a self-mailer and why should my business market with them?

direct mail being placed in mailbox

Do you ever feel like you need to ditch the envelope entirely? Maybe your campaign demands to be seen right out of the mailbox. When you’re looking to design a direct mail campaign that functions out-of-the-box, a self mailer is one of the most effective options.

Self Mailers, Explained

Self mailers, when executed well, are eye-catching pieces of mail. What makes a self mailer special is the absence of a direct mail envelope  that go with a direct mail letter. We typically associate self mailers with brochures, booklets, and pamphlets. To put it simply, self mailers are colorful, multi-page pieces of direct mail that have the power to convey a longer message than most direct mail.

When You Should Consider a Self Mailer

To be completely honest, I recommend using a self mailer in only very specific circumstances. If a client requires a lot of real estate, then it’s safe to say that a multi-page self mailer is an ideal choice for their direct mail strategy. Here are a few specific self mailer examples we’ve created for clients in the past:

  • Newsletters
  • Annual Reports
  • Product Brochures
  • Coupon Booklets

A self mailer, by its very nature, demands high-quality design to be an effective part of your campaign strategy. While the cost of sending a folded one-page brochure is low, the cost of designing and printing that piece can often off-set those savings.

With that said, I still recommend self mailers for anyone looking to add sophistication to their mail campaign. I see, by far, more dazzling self mailers in the form of annual reports than anything else. The reason for that is simple; annual reports are meant to engage and excite an audience that would, in turn, potentially donate money to an organization. I think of these kinds of self mailers as the direct mail equivalent of “wining and dining” an audience. You want to impress them quickly and a beautiful self mailer does exactly that.

Getting Started with Self Mailers

I like to break down self mailers into 2 main categories (of course, there are exceptions as well as other pieces of mail that can be considered a “self mailer”). There’s a multi-page “booklet” design and a single page “folded” design. Both options have their strengths. Let’s break them down.

Booklet Self Mailers

Booklets are self mailers featuring multiple pages bound together with staples on the folded edge. These are typically used for product showcasing and coupons but your imagination is the only limit to what you can do with a booklet! They have a few key features worth noting:

  • Must be rectangular in shape. They have a minimum size of 3.5 inches by 5 inches and a maximum size of 6 inches by 10.5 inches.
  • Uses “wafer seals” (semi-transparent circular stickers) to keep pages sealed through processing.
  • Features saddle stitching along the fold, which uses staples on the binding to keep the pages together.

If you’ve ever received a coupon booklet, then you should be familiar with the average booklet-style self mailer. These pieces are typically more expensive to print and mail due to their increased weight, multiple printed pages, and increased ink.

Folded Self Mailers

You would be surprised what you can do with a single piece of paper when you fold it and print it on both sides! A folded self mailer is a cost-effective piece of direct mail that can be sophisticated, colorful, and incredibly engaging to your audience. Once folded, they effectively offer 4 pages of content. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Require a minimum height of 3.5 inches and a maximum height of 6 inches
  • The minimum width is 5 inches and the maximum width is 10.5 inches
  • Uses wafer seals if folded for the purposes of processing

Folded self mailers are a great way to maximize your message with a minimum of paper. They’re lightweight, stand out in your audience’s mailbox, and can feature eye-catching designs.

Make Your Important Message Stand Out

I like to think of self mailers as keystone pieces of direct mail. They’re typically flashy and aren’t necessarily cheap if they are designed well. However, there are plenty of reasons for needing that kind of mail. Whether it’s an exciting coupon campaign, a yearly fundraising effort, or the next iteration of your engaging newsletter, self mailers get your point across with sophistication.

by:

Sawyier Phillips


October 30, 2020

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