The b direct logo Hive

Mailbox Monday


It's always interesting to see self-promotion from firms that do some or all of what we do. For example, we just received a big, bold self-mailer from 99designs, a division of Vistaprint. If brevity is, indeed, the soul of wit, the folks at 99designs are very witty. They also seem to be big on design and not so much on direct mail.

But, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The self-mailer measures 6" x 9" folded and it's on a nice, coated stock. The fold, unfortunately, is quite crooked, but we aren't taking points off for that (although 99design's parent company is a printer, so maybe we should). The cover includes a full bleed illustration of a bright red sky, a couple of purple planets and an office complex on the surface of what we assume is Earth (?). A quote appears front and center:

"Everything is designed.
Few things are designed well."

This is attributed to Brian Reed and "This American Life and S-town," which turns out to be a podcast. (Thank you, Google.) But honestly, even if we had heard of it, the attribution is nearly impossible to read. Tiny type, reversed out, and italicized. We agree with the actual quote (any self-respecting designers would), but if you're going to assert something like this, you have to be very careful that your own design is ... well ... designed well. As marketers, and specifically direct mail marketers, we have to ensure that the design makes a piece easy to read.

Inside, the two-panel spread includes side-by-side illustrations. On the right, a man in a business suit seems to be flying super-hero-style in front of a business landscape. The same man transitions across the fold into a spacesuit surrounded by planets a comet, and a satellite. He holds a sign that reads "Flip over to save $20." Other copy insists that "One size doesn't fit all" and encourages us to "Get a logo and business card tailored for you." Along the edges of the interior spread are logos that we assume were designed by 99designs.

This is where it gets ... um ... interesting. The address panel (which we can read when we "flip over") has all the content one would normally find inside a folding brochure:

  • The offer: $20 off the usual price of $449
  • The "99 experience": who they are and what they do
  • Customer satisfaction: 4.8/5 rating
  • Service: 24/7 global community of creatives
  • Guarantee: money-back if we don't love it

There's a QR code, a campaign URL, and a teeny tiny 800-number. Seriously, for a company that is putting forth a message of "we design well," they break a golden rule of good design, not once but twice.

99designs may be very good at what they do — we gather that's designing logos and business cards — but, they might want to turn their next mailer over to designers who specialize in direct mail.

The Bs at B Direct give the piece a thumbs down.

And we're still looking for a loop in case we missed any other copy.

Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

B2R, Where B2C Meets B2B
Face the Fact, You Need to Get Social

For creative marketing that really works, it’s time for B Direct.