Looking for a way to make your product stand out when it arrives in the hot little hands of journalists or influencers? Sick of sending out products and getting little to no response from the recipient, let alone a social media post or media coverage?
There's a good chance you're missing some crucial steps when it comes to concept creation and execution.
Making a creative mailer truly unforgettable is one of Nastasia Marjanovic's superpowers. As PR and Talent Director at Straight UP PR, she knows just what it takes to ensure there's a valuable return on investment (ROI) for her clients, for every single one of the agency's creative mailers.
Nastasia has been kind enough to share some of her top tips on how to add a little wow-factor to your next creative mailer. There's just handful of them shared below but if you want even more insight about creative mailers, I've dedicated a whole podcast episode to them on The PR Pod.
You'll find a link at the bottom of this blog or just search "The PR Pod" on Apple, Spotify or your fave podcast platform.
The Product Drop v The Creative Mailer
If your process has been to bundle your products into a box (albeit one with a beautiful ribbon), send it to a journalist and cross your fingers you'll receive glowing coverage, you've been executing a 'product drop'. It's as it sounds - product dropping into the lap (or desk) of the recipient. There's nothing overly compelling about the execution, aside from the fact you may be introducing the recipient to a new product on the market.
The creative mailer is like a product drop with wow-factor. It’s designed to stand out and spark action in your recipient; who won’t be able to resist sharing that wow-factor with their audience.
Considering how many products journalists and influencers receive on a weekly (even daily!) basis, it's crucial your delivery has cut-through. And to achieve the kind of cut-through that results in a social media post, a confirmed piece of media coverage or engagement of any kind, you need to get creative and think beyond the box.
Budget or Concept First?
Nastasia is a firm believer in signing off on the budget, first. This sets clear expectations for the client, and it keeps things practical. It doesn't mean you can't present an idea that is a little beyond the budget but if you do, you really need to provide context as to why this will deliver an even greater ROI than a concept that meets the budget.
Here's some costs to consider when putting together a budget for your creative mailer:
Packaging – brand-friendly ribbon, tissue paper, box, and elements to keep your products safe through-out the delivery process.
Printing – What collateral will you include? Do you want to include a recipe card, QR code, instruction manual or media release?
Delivery – Standard or express post versus courier. Does your product have a short shelf-life and need to be transported in a refrigerated van?
Time – Yours, your team and your clients.
HOT TIP - Consider buying packaging in bulk to reduce costs, especially if you're working with a retainer client and are likely to have multiple creative mailers to send over the comings months/year. And it goes without saying but I'll say it anyway, you should be choosing eco-friendly packaging where possible.
Elements of a Great Creative Mailer Concept Let’s be clear: a creative mailer needs to be Instagram and TikTok friendly, because you want those stories.
It shouldn’t just look great; it needs to say something – in 15 seconds or less, ideally - and spark action. Just enough time for the recipient to unwrap their delivery and work out what they've received and why they need to know about it.
Maybe it gives them a laugh, kick-starts a debate in their office, or provides such a gorgeous unveiling moment they want to capture it on video.
An example Nastasia gave was one she used for one her peanut butter client - do you butter before you spread your peanut butter? What a great convo starter! It got people chatting in the office, posing the question on Instagram plus secured her client coverage. For the record, I always butter before I peanut butter but my partner doesn't and I think he's bonkers!
When brainstorming a concept, think about how you can tap into consumer insights or cultural trends. A great place to start is to keep an eye on the calendar. For example, your product might be a shoe-in for Mother's Day (or World Guacamole Day, if you’re working with avocados). There’s a day for everything, and a little bit of meme-magic goes a long way.
And if you want to get really creative, try to incorporate the full sensory experience. Your product alone might not have the elements to do this, but what if you brought in another brand to collaborate?
Whatever that message is, just remember every element of the creative mailer should speak to your client’s brand values. A sleek and sexy product should not be wrapped in rustic brown paper - it will confuse your messaging and brand values.
Ready The Recipients
Just because someone is a beauty writer, it doesn't mean they want to receive the latest mascara from your client. A food writer may be happy to write about a new organic peanut butter but if they have a peanut allergy, they will not want to have it anywhere near them.
Regardless of who your recipient is, you should always check they're happy to receive the delivery from your client or brand. You don't have to reveal the complete concept of your delivery, just make sure the product is of interest to them and they're happy to receive.
It also gives you the opportunity to check where they want it delivered to and that they'll be there, on the expected delivery date. With so many journalists working from home, the last thing you want is to deliver your creative mailer to their office and for them not to get hold of it for days, even weeks. Even worse, imagine if you had sent them some fresh burgers from a new burger bar, only to have them sitting on the journalist's office desk. It will not make for a pleasant surprise when they eventually find it!
Or, maybe they're actually on holidays the week you're hoping to send it so you may need to delay their delivery for another fortnight.
By taking the time to touch base with the recipient (or their manager) in advance, you're ensuring they're actually interested in the product which will give you a greater chance of actually gaining the result you want, from it.
Incorporating Other Brands Into a Mailer
Say you’re promoting a fancy new gin by a small Australian distillery. It’s a high-quality product with a beautiful label and an interesting brand story. You’ve also locked in a cast of journalists and influencers who can’t wait to try it.
But you can bet most of them won’t drink it neat.
Why not team up with a boutique soft drink company who makes artisanal mixers? Throw in some tasting notes and serving suggestions to create that sensory experience. World Gin Day is just around the corner? Even better.
Brand alignment is key when collaborating with other companies. If your brand has strong sustainable values, make sure your collaborating brand also does. Or, maybe you want to align with a brand which has stronger market awareness among your key demographic so it gives you a chance to leverage that.
Don't go overboard with brand partners. 1 - 2 brands is about the max you want to align with to make sure your brand doesn't get lost in the mix. If you can, split the costs and get even more bang for your buck.
Working With Influencers - What to Look For
While size definitely matters, brand alignment is the biggest factor to consider when pitching to influencers. Does the influencer produce images/posts that are of the same quality/tone as your brand? Look at their copy/messaging from previous posts - is that consistent with what you'd want?
Do your research and know who you’re dealing with. Just like I mentioned previously, there’s no point pitching peanut butter to a lifestyle blogger with a serious nut allergy.
Look for an engaged audience (it's not just about the likes, check their percentage of engagement and quality of comments) and make sure it’s aligned with your demographic. A blogger might have tens of thousands of followers but if the majority of those followers are actually based in another country or state, then they're not necessarily going to reach the people you want.
If you're not sure on an influencer's audience insights, just ask them or their manager to screen-shot these for you. They're used to doing it and if they're not happy to provide, then they're not the right person for you.
A Result That Counts
Assuming you've done what you should have and touched base with your recipients to ascertain their interest in receiving the product first, you'll already have a line of communication with them.
When you know the product has arrived, touch base with them within a few hours to make sure they've received it. Use this as an opportunity to see what they thought of it and whether they feel it would be a good fit for their column or wherever they write. If it's an influencer, there's a good chance they've already taken some snaps or video of them unwrapping it just make sure you check their social media channels before you touch base with them and if they have, it's a great opportunity to thank them.
And, if you've thought about the message you want to communicate, conveyed that effectively and in line with the brand values plus given the recipient a memorable opening experience, then you're bound to spark the action you desire.
After More Tips??
I've only squeezed in a handful of juicy tips above so if you want to know how many follow-ups is appropriate once your creative mailer has landed, some examples of brand collaborations you could consider, or how far in advance you should really be planning a creative mailer concept, listen to the full podcast episode on The PR Pod here. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast player, just search "The PR Pod".
Please share, rate and follow the podcast so others can find it too!
If you love soaking in insight and information, take a listen to some of our other episodes here.
Images courtesy of Canva and Giphy.