Brands need to think more creatively or unaddressed mail will always be junk

Unaddressed direct mail has considerable odds against it. In some quarters, it has been described along the lines of  “wasteful junk that should be confined to the marketing annals”.

Russell Parsons

To counter that, you had better make sure the mail sent, inserted or dropped through letterboxes arrests the attention long enough people will pause before they throw it into the recycle bin.

Addressed mail senders have countered this by developing elaborate, multi-sensory experiences often with digital elements to engage with consumers in the hope of setting them on a journey to a sale.

Unaddressed senders have a harder job. They are not personalised, they are often not targeted by anything other than post code and tend to have less invested in them.

As I said, odds are stacked against. All is not lost, however. With a little imagination, it is possible to impress and inspire.

Exhibit A. Sorting my Saturday newspaper into things I want to/feel like I should read and stuff I want to bin weekend last, I was presented with an envelope insert from Barnardo’s that made no reference to the charity’s campaigns. Instead, it promised Christmas gift tags with the personalised to a point message – “your gift tags are inside”.

Given the time of year (my partner is incredibly organised) I was drawn in and moved on to read a heart-warming tale of the children behind the tags – Georgia and Harry, child carers.

Charity cards and gift tags, of course, are nothing new. Most using them, however, will already be engaged with the charity in question. They will most likely have gone out of their way and chosen to buy because they already have a relationship with the charity in question.

In thinking about the insert, both on a professional and personal level, I have engaged with Barnado’s more than I ever would if it doesn’t exist. If my response is duplicated nationwide, that’s not a bad day’s work for the charity.

Unaddressed mail doesn’t have to have bells and whistles to be noticed, it just needs to be imaginative, timely and have a reason to be. 

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here