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We are challenged to command attention and create trust in an environment where consumers are overloaded with marketing messages, advertising is viewed with skepticism and mail is perused in a time-constricted and nonattentive manner.

Today's consumers typically look quickly through their mail while standing over the wastebasket at the end of a stressful, busy day. As a result, preprocessing has changed from selection (looking for things of interest) to elimination (looking for things to immediately screen out). In response, we approach direct mail topographically. This means we view the package as a series of surfaces, and we recognize that we are creating a non-linear communication (one that is scanned in parts rather than read from beginning to end).

The elements of our topographic approach are:

Surfaces: We can't predict the order in which people will scan the elements of a direct mail package, but we do know they tend to look at certain locations more than others. As much as possible, we try to communicate a complete and meaningful proposition in each key location: benefits, offer and call-to-action.

Icons: These are visual and verbal symbols that are instantaneously and involuntarily processed. Icons are particularly effective in getting someone who is not concentrating to comprehend an idea or take an action. They are, in essence, road signs: We don't really pay conscious attention to them but we do comply with them.

Specificity: Creating the trust that leads to response requires specificity. In an age where consumers are increasingly skeptical and cynical of all marketing communications, we always ensure that a scanning reader can quickly decipher the answers to four key questions: Who are you? What are you offering? What's in it for me? What do you want me to do?

Involvement: Classic tactile devices like stickers and scratch-offs have stood the test of time because the underlying principles still apply: Any technique that engages the hand will also involve the brain, thereby prolonging and intensifying reader attention. Today, we regularly employ a broad range of involvement devices ranging from subtle (e.g., an involving fold or die-cut) to classic (a pull tab or lift-off decal) to unique (e.g., a lenticular image, which changes when viewed from different angles).

Brand: In a world where consumers are overwhelmed with choices, communicating and continually reinforcing a distinctive brand personality is more important than ever. Strongly branded communications create comfort and simplify purchase decisions, so we always take care to ensure that your direct marketing communications are sending the right
brand message.