Go beyond the screen to reframe your brand experience

This guest blog post has been written by James Middlehurst, Managing Partner, MBA and shows how brands can create powerful communications as well as insights from leading marketing thought leaders.


Written by James Middlehurst

Beyond Screen Banner

The world has changed, and everyone’s online. And while it may at first seem counterintuitive, this could be the best time for brands to send their customers something “physically irresistible”. After all, in an increasingly virtual world, having something that we can touch, smell, see and experience, feels almost magical.

Mail is the antidote to our virtual lives, creating real world connections and giving people something that they can hold onto. That’s why people love receiving, sharing and discussing it. And because touch generates such powerful and long-lasting memories, when brands use mail, they stay top of mind for longer. 

As we come out of lock-down, the market is shapeshifting and more opportunities for businesses are emerging. Direct mail should be part of any progressive marketer’s plans. Apart from being personal, highly targeted and measurable, it also provides the perfect creative platform by allowing for longer more convincing brand narratives.

Mail can be personal, funny, interesting and disruptive. And if it’s any of these, it’s done its job, because it becomes a conversation starter. But how can brands use mail to create powerful communications like this? Something that’s physically irresistible, that does all, or at least some of the above? We explored 5 areas that are rich with possibilities:

1. Paper - make the medium the message

As you already know, paper doesn’t just come in one form, it has a range of different thicknesses and textures. It can be scented and be edible. And even if it is as plain as the A4 sheet that comes out of your printer, it can still be cut, and folded in many ways, all of which encourage interaction.

Paper has so many possibilities and can be used to build a more immersive customer experience – like in this campaign for the Gothenburg Homeless Aid in Sweden.

2. Technology - who says it's only for laptops, tablets and smartphones?

Mixing tech with a physical format like mail creates a surprise and delight effect that engages the customer’s attention, and ultimately builds brand memory. This includes sending videos or holograms in the mail, but also delivering digital experiences in a surprising way.

All this comes from a good understanding of customer journeys and harnessing valuable data to maximise touchpoints. Like Notonthehighstreet, who have achieved a seamless transition from mail to online purchases with some intuitive tech and a thorough understanding of consumer behaviour.

3. Multi-sensory - makes perfect sense

If you don’t engage more of the senses, you don’t have a complete experience. That’s as true of Zoom meetings, as it is for your brand experience. Mail engages so much more than the eyes and ears. It has the potential to deliver a tangible, visceral experience that influences all five senses. You can play with textures and printing techniques that invite touch, include sound chips and videos, use scented paper for smell and even edible paper for taste.

See what behavioral expert Crawford Hollingworth has to say about the power of multi-sensory experiences.

4. Personal - take one-to-one to a whole new level

Of course, mail is already personal, because it is usually addressed to individual customers. But now, with digital printing, you can take personalisation to a micro level, and use sophisticated data that’s specific to every customer. German pet food company Josera did this by including personalised maps from every customer’s home to their nearest retailers. Reducing barrier to purchase, one mile at a time.

5. Simplicity - the what, as much as the how

Mail doesn’t have to be expensive or use complicated technology or printing techniques to be effective. Sometimes, it’s more about your message and idea, and less about how you’re delivering it. The message can work its magic, even if it’s printed on the plainest of papers, in the simplest of formats. See what Robin Garton, Executive Creative Director at Sky has to say about the power of simple ideas.

This content for this article has been derived from the Royal Mail MarketReach eBook. It’s a comprehensive guide on mail in 2020, showcasing brilliant examples of award-winning work, and articles from top experts in the marketing community. To find out more about why you should make mail part of your media mix, download our free eBook 'Physically Irresistible'. 

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