Rock the Mailbox: Trish Witkowski at the Lark

The AIGA SB board of directors scored invites to a fun presentation about direct mail and packaging last night. Trish Witkowski of “Fold of the Week” and fame was invited by V3 to show off her expertise with “Rock the Box” about the enduring strength of direct mail as a marketing medium.

Trish explained (with some riveting, eye-catching examples) that direct mail pieces, with their physical appeal to more than one of our senses, still carry the most impact when driving the emotion-based decision making all consumers experience when they purchase something. Direct mail pieces are still associated with quality and trust, transcending consumer age and sporting a 12-1 return rate.

The most successful campaigns, she said, keep in touch with their customers every 4-6 weeks, segmenting by geography, demographics, psychographics, and sales stage. The classic 1960s 40-40-20 rule of success still applies as well: 40% is direction to the correct audience, 40% is making the right offer, and 20% is (sadly, for designers) “everything else.” Trish gave an example of a car mechanic shop staying at top of mind with their regular maintenance reminders that customers often brought in-hand to their scheduled appointments. She also noted that today, the 40-40-20 rule is more like 60-30-10.


Trish further explained that successful direct mail campaigns also have a compelling voice, driven by the written word. The various motivations all appeared to be extremely visceral and reactionary (fear, greed, exclusivity, anger, etc.) but the effectiveness was undeniable and Trish encouraged the audience to pay attention to the language of compelling direct mail pieces.

From there, Trish did what she loves best and took everyone on a tour of her favorite recent pieces (including a few designed here in Santa Barbara) as highlighted in her “Fold of the Week” YouTube series. The best pieces were clever, inspired, and often ingenious ideas that, while employing the methods previously discussed, did so in memorably well-designed fashion.

The AIGA SB board is grateful to our chapter sponsor V3 for this fun opportunity to visit the SB Funk Zone and enjoy great design, food and drink. Thanks to Tom Hinkle and his colleagues at V3, and thanks to Trish Witkowski for an illuminating event!

UPDATE: For more photos from this event check out the AIGA SB Facebook page!

“Rock the Box” invitation design and photo by Irene Hoffman.

By Keir DuBois
Published September 19, 2014
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