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Mailbox Monday


We all know not to judge a book by its cover. But, as direct mail marketers, we also have to admit that many (maybe most) people have no problem judging our campaigns by their outer envelopes.

And the walk from the mailbox to the waste basket in most homes takes about twelve seconds.

Some mailers respond to this sad fact by putting everything — and we do mean everything — on the outer envelope. Product, features, benefits, offer, and even call-to-action. Others take a stealth approach and send their solicitation in a completely blank envelope, hoping that the recipient's curiosity will get the better of them and they'll be compelled to open.

One such stealthy campaign arrived the other day.

The 6" x 9.5" white window envelope was completely blank except for postage. It didn't have a printed indicia, but had been metered with non profit postage.

If the outside was a study in minimalism (or a tribute to the Beatles ninth studio album), the inside packed tons of compelling information into several inserts of various shapes and sizes.

The package, we quickly realized was from Medecins Sans Frontieres or Doctors Without Borders. Here's what we found:

A 4-color letter from Executive Director Jason Cone described the important work of his organization and why they depend on the "generous financial support of people deeply committed to supporting emergency medical action." Large photos depicted healthcare workers and their patients, some in surroundings that look makeshift and unsafe. Cone's P.S. drove us to a map that "demonstrates the scope of our work and the global impact you can have ..."

The map, colorful printed on a nicer stock, unfolded to an impressive 17" x 25.5". One side was a map of the globe with a headline "We find out where conditions are the worst — the places where others are not going — and that's where we want to be." There's also a quote from a  pediatrician.

The other side of this insert shows where and how the organization's funds are used. This information is delivered in several ways, accommodating different browsing styles. There's another world map with callouts that show what percentage of their efforts are dedicated to different geographies. There are stats for seven individual countries: number of patients treated, vaccines given, malaria victims treated, births assisted, etc. There's a testimonial from a physician for each country and a photo for each. And, there's a pie chart that shows the percentage of the organization's funds that goes to patient care (vs. management and marketing).

The map works hard, but there are more inserts as well. One is a legal-sized, two-color piece with an infographic on one side, recapping much of the information from the map in simple bullets and icons, and on the other, a brief history of the organization with a picture of the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to Doctors Without Borders in 1999.

Finally, there's a personalized response device with more photos, along with a list of different donation amounts and what each can help with. The organization's expenditures on actual aid are again highlighted, along with callouts that showcase four ways that "Together, we can do more."

This is one of the hardest working packages we've ever come across. And all of the information (there's a ton of it) feels perfectly relevant to and unique for Doctors Without Borders. (There's nary a free address label or memo pad in sight. The feeling is that the mission is so urgent and important that the facts alone are enough.)

The Bs give this educational and engaging package a thumbs-up.

Sometimes you can't judge a campaign by its envelope.

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