A Guide to Direct Mail

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(1) Is DM for you?

(2) Choosing your list

(3) The Offer

(4) Call to Action

(5) The Package

(6) The Copy

About Copy
Type Faces
>>Paper Stock<<

(7) Testing

(8) Tracking

History of DM

The following is from a 1921 classic direct marketing text called "Effective Direct Advertising" by Robert Ramsay. Although it may seem strange to the reader that I quote from such an old text (and do so in some other parts of the site as well), I feel that if you can get past the dated language, you will find advice both useful and relevant.


Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? That parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man:?-SHAKESPEARE.

The Least Considered Factor in Direct Advertising.
W. H. Crow, speaking before the Philadelphia convention of the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World, made this statement, emphasizing the words of Shakespeare quoted in the chapter head : "Without a doubt, paper is the least considered of the various factors in direct advertising. Too frequently the attitude towards paper is that it is a necessary evil, an incident to copy, typography, en-graving, etc. It is chosen because it satisfies the bald necessities of appearance, price, and printability. Of course these are important considerations, but they are frequently not so important as the intrinsic qualities of the paper itself." Mr. Crow made this remark in 1916 and as this paragraph is written (late in 1920) the situation has not materially changed though many of the leading paper manufacturers have been conducting campaigns for the education of printers and users of paper in paper values.

The paper industry seems to be surrounded by a film of tradition which cannot be pierced to the extent of adapting the same kind of educational publicity for a necessity zsed in business every day-paper-which has been used for a soup or a soap.

In this chapter we can but hope to arouse the reader to give a bit more consideration to paper as one of the mechanical factors which also has a physical, mental (psychological) ; yes, even a strategic appeal.

We ourselves have almost stumbled into the rut by at tributing to paper a place more or less purely mechanical, when it should more properly be classed among the physical or mental factors.

From the printer's standpoint paper represents about one-third of the total cost of an average printing job; for this reason, therefore, it was deemed best to place the chap-ter at this point though, of course, paper-which you are to print upon-is of primary importance.

The Interrelation of Paper with Other Factors.
George French, a lover of printing for its own sake and as an expression of the principles of art, in his book, "Printing in Relation to Art," said: "It is a complex and an involved process to select the proper paper for a given piece of printing, and the rightful decision of either of the component elements involves the rightful decision with reference to each of the others. It is impossible to consider the question of paper apart from a consideration of the typography, the illustrations, the format, and the binding ; and it is not passible to consider any of these elements apart from the literary motive, which must always be the foundation of the structure." Yet in another place in that same work Mr. French recognizes the necessity of making a start somewhere and says : "It It is good practice to select the paper as the first step in the planning of a book that is intended to be upon artistic lines and upon this foundation to build the typography and the binding, according to the rules of harmony and of proportion."

These quotations emphasize both the interrelation of paper with certain other factors and lead us to the inevitable conclusion, taken in conjunction with Section 315, that advertisers have been prone to buy paper more or less upon a basis of quantity rather than upon quality. In 1880 statistics show that the demand for paper in the United States was about 3 pounds per capita. In 1894 this had moved up to 5 pounds, while in 1919 it had jumped up to 33 pounds, and in 1920 was estimated as in excess of 35 pounds per person.

Before discussing the different classes of paper, there fore, we feel it well to dwell at some length upon how to decide upon the paper stock to use in producing a piece of direct advertising as well as to touch upon the psychology of paper.

Selecting the Right Paper Stock.
First having found out (Chapter VIII) the type of advertiser; having considered the character, standing, dignity, and nature of this advertiser's business ; and having studied the class, means, conditions, occupation, nationality, age and sex of the persons advertised to; as well as having given thought to the kind, quality, nature, distinctive characteristics of the product or service we are to advertise; secondly (Chap-ter X), having decided upon the style and tenor of our "copy" appeal; thirdly, (Chapters XIII and XIV), having arrived at a decision as to the process, colors, and methods of illustrations, Mr. Crow (see Section 315) brings us, fourthly, to the selection of the paper based upon these three main rules :

1. Form. Considerations of economy, or elimination of waste on the part of the advertiser are thrown in the balance as against convenience, impressiveness, effectiveness, etc., with reference to prospective buyers. Form is also influenced by the consideration of the effectiveness of the illustrations.
2. Symbolical or suggestive attributes of the paper.
3. Physical characteristics of the paper.

Under the physical characteristics of paper we must consider
a. Surface.
b. Strength.
c. Durability.
d. Printability.
e. Color.

Many subdivisions might be considered under each of these three main and five minor headings.

A simple example of the symbolical or suggestive attribute of paper would be denoted in the use of a golden orange or golden yellow paper for a manufacturer of creamery butter made in a golden color. This shows the use of the color-a physical characteristic to suggest quality.

Especially in the case of mailing cards, folders, broad-sides, and the like, the folding quality of the paper must be given careful consideration.

In many instances excellent effects can be secured by using bond paper for booklets (there is a wide range of tints and shades available), and overcoming the tendency of the printing to "show through," on account of its semi-transparency, by using what is known as the French fold two pages uncut, and printing only on one side of the paper as illustrated in Fig. 70.

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