I’m a big advocate of pursuing companies you want to work with instead of blindly marketing and accepting whatever comes back. But turning a short, carefully vetted list of prospects into a roster of clients has never been easy.

Enter the Lumpy Mailer

It’s the digital age, I’m online, so my first contact would come via the digital pipeline, right?

Wrong.

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Imagine crafting a sales e-mail. Well written, carefully crafted and hugely persuasive, it’s a paen to lyrical copywriting – yet it’s likely to be wholly ignored, surrounded as it is by a tidal wave of other communications.

For all the prospect knows, it’s one of ten thousand mailed that morning.

It’s not unique. It doesn’t make them feel special. And the client has to act on it immediately, or you’re sunk.

Now imagine holding a padded envelope with a lump in the middle. Or a Priority Mail box that rattles ever so slightly. And then pulling out a fun toy attached to a strong sales message.

Bingo.

Put Them on Notice

By mailing a three-dimensional object – through a channel that’s fast becoming “obsolete” in so many marketers’ eyes – you’ve tapped into the very human desire for something unique.

Many years ago, I sent an ad agency a battered bowling pin, asking if they were truly bowled over by the work they were currently getting.

As part of another agency pitch, I once shipped a large toy robot arm with a pitch card in its grippers. It told them the edgy creative they’d always wanted was now within their grasp.

Last week’s prospect received wind-up chattering teeth attached to a card, which asked the prospect if they wanted the online world talking about their products.

Why go to all the trouble? Simple. I hand-picked this very, very small group of prospects, and I want them to feel “hand picked.” And I want to get my message across with clarity and humor.

And finally, I want them to take my phone call.

Don’t Forget to Ask

Once you’ve created a lumpy mailer, don’t assume you’ve dazzled them into submission. Readers still need to know what you want, and the mailer isn’t a complete sales pitch. It’s simply a foot in the door.

My goal? A phone call, though I sometimes create a landing page so the client has an option. (If you have even mediocre Web skills, landing pages are fast, affordable, and continue the dialog that began with the mailer.)

Still, don’t expect the lumpy mailer to do the whole job for you; it’s an amuse bouche — a single taste of your communication skills. It’s not designed to do the whole sales job for you, but gets you in the door so you can make your pitch.

It’s not a silver bullet (if the prospect doesn’t need you, they don’t need you), but it is a powerful way to grab a little mindshare and make a prospect smile — especially given that cool objects tend to live on the recipient’s desktop for a while.

Lumpy mailers aren’t cutting edge. They are, however, damned effective, and belong in every copywriter’s arsenal – for you and your clients.