Quick Tip:
The Envelope Teaser

There is a rule in the space-advertising world that the copywriter should spend as much time on the headline as he spends on the rest of the ad put together. This actually makes a lot of sense, because coming up with a great headline is really figuring out the fundamental selling proposition of the ad.

The same thing can be said about the envelope teaser for a direct-mail package.

It is sometimes said that the sole purpose of an envelope teaser is to get the prospect to open the package. This is certainly an objective, but it's not the only one.

Moreover, it should not be assumed that anything you do to get the envelope opened is good – that the ends will justify any means. I've tried all sorts of wild and weird teasers over the years and know from experience that teasers that open envelopes by unsupportable claims and deception backfire when the prospect looks inside and discovers he's been duped.

Yes, get the envelope opened. And the best way to do that is to put no copy on it whatsoever – just a return address (mandatory since 9/11) and a "live" stamp. If you are going to write a teaser at all, you should be doing so because you want to accomplish more than getting the envelope opened. You also want to –

  • suggest an idea that will help you sell the product, and
  • create an emotional mood conducive for the sale

Important Consideration: Don't make a big promise with the envelope teaser and then forget about it. To keep your prospect moving forward, repeat the teaser (though not exactly) with the headline or subhead of the first sales element you want him to read.

Hint No.1: As a general rule, the more specifically targeted you can make the teaser, the better it will do.

Hint No.2: It's a good idea to test your envelope teaser against a blank envelope. If you don't do it from the get-go, do it later on. You'll never know if the teaser is working at all until you test it against no teaser at all.

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Published: December 17, 2001

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