direct mail

CMBell Company and Clients Win Five National Awards

Creative work by CMBell and our clients has garnered five awards from the 34th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards competition.

  • Three gold awards were given for an internal communication microsite, an OB direct mail, and a video on reducing the cost of homelessness.

  • One bronze award was given for an e-letter.

  • One silver award was given for a video on innovation in health care.

The award-winning work was produced by clients in Los Angeles, Denver and Roseville.

In this year’s competition, nearly 4,000 entries were judged by a national panel who reviewed creativity, quality, message effectiveness, consumer appeal, graphic design, and overall impact.

Hats off to our creative team and to our clients for earning this recognition!

GOLD: AHSCR—Internal communication website communicating the reasons behind the new strategic direction and outlining a vision for the company's future.

GOLD: Littleton Adventist Hospital—Direct mail piece as part of a larger campaign that significantly increased market share.

GOLD: White Memorial Medical Center—A video about their work to reduce the cost of homelessness in Los Angeles.

SILVER: Adventist Health—A CEO update on innovation within the company.

BRONZE: AHSCR—One of a series of e-letters sent from the CEO to leaders as part of an internal communication campaign that raised understanding of the vision, values and mission of the organization.

Direct Mail: Still an Important Part of Your Marketing Mix

Don’t ignore direct mail in your move towards digital messaging. Of course digital must be part of your mix, but don’t underestimate the power of print.
In the case of direct mail, people generally have to sort their mail, which means you have a chance to get their attention.
Once you’re in the reader’s hand, you have a second or two to help them decide if the message is for them—and to get them inside the piece. So think about every micro-second of the buy journey as you develop a direct mail piece.

  1. Does the cover clearly offer a promise to a problem they have—thus inviting them further into the journey?
  2. Does the overall look convey the right image? For a hospital, for example, there’s an expected dignity and credibility that telegraphs competence. This is done through color, type choice, word choices and photos.
  3. Is it easy to browse, so the reader can go right to the content that interests them?
  4. Is the call to action easy to find and clear?
  5. If they respond to the call to action, will they get what they’ve been promised? Either someone knowledgeable on the phone, or a Web page that truly offers useful information without much effort on their part. 

We’re still fans of this medium. If it’s done well, it can definitely affect people’s buying decisions.

Can a Sticky Note Increase Your Direct Mail Returns?

One author thinks so. According to a study by Randy Garner at Sam Houston State University, the addition of a sticky note significantly improved the chances of reply. While his research centered on survey results, one could see this finding applied to direct mail, too.
You can read the whole article here.

Educational Advertising Awards Given to Four CMBell Company Projects

Four creative projects were selected for awards in the 30th Annual Educational Advertising Awards Competition. The Independent Colleges of Washington 60-year Anniversary Video received a Gold Award, and communication projects for the Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges & Universities and Walla Walla University received a Silver Award and two Merit Awards. Earlier, these same projects received recognition in the 12th Annual Service Industry Awards Competition.
Congratulations to ICW, OAICU and WWU!

CMBell Company and Clients Win Three Awards for Creative Work

Creative work developed by CMBell Company and clients has received one bronze and two merit awards from the 12th Annual Service Industry Awards competition.

A bronze award was given for Walla Walla University’s Student Employment—Employer Calendar/Direct Mail.



A merit award was given for Walla Walla University’s Student Employment Kit.

A merit award was given for Independent Colleges of Washington’s 60-year anniversary video.

Approximately 1,500 entries were received in this year’s competition, which was judged by a national panel of experts. The entries were judged on creativity, quality, message effectiveness, consumer appeal, graphic design and overall impact.

Get Noticed

We’re all overwhelmed with information, so first impressions matter. They determine whether the recipient will go deeper—or walk away.

Sometimes you have to break out of the pack to get noticed—before you can make your case. This can be done with humor, arresting graphics, interactive features or by delivering content that’s designed to be kept.

 Need some inspiration? >> 


Next time you want to create a brochure, think creatively about format. In this piece, individual cards increase engagement and deliver bite-sized messages that aren’t overwhelming—all in a package that uses novelty to pique the reader’s interest.

There’s no media buy with this print calendar, and its petite size makes it ideal for a tack board and a year-long reminder of the sponsoring organization.


This handsome centennial direct mail piece defied being thrown away, by including a gift pen and beautiful note cards featuring regional icons.

In this video designed to recruit new businesses, see how powerful words deliver a message that couldn’t be sent by words alone.

We helped a national association promote their website digitally by developing this short video that highlights the site’s benefits.

Create the Unexpected to Get Your Reader’s Attention

 Print isn’t dead, but boring print has always been dead. So how can print pieces be used to catch attention?
Spend the effort to create something that is:

  • Interactive. People are more prone to read something that requires their tactile involvement, like sorting through these individual cards.

  • Make it easy for your reader. We used small bite-sized messages on small cards, which aren’t as intimidating as a larger format that telegraphs “reader beware: this will take a while.” The bottom line: we want to browse a piece quickly to determine whether or not it pertains to us. Don’t give the reader a reason to toss it before they start to read.

  • Reduce, reduce, reduce. Readers are skimming more and more, so get to your point before you lose them.

  • Organize content by relevance—and make it easy to keep. Readers can select the info they want to keep, like contact information or hiring tips. And the small card sizes make it easy to slip into a purse or post on a tack board.

Originality can take an ordinary message and make it memorable. It’s all in the delivery!

Create Content Readers Care About

If you want to build engagement with prospective clients, think more about creating content they can use—even when they’re not at the point of purchase.

Here’s an example. Walla Walla University worked with us to develop useful content on lowering college debt—in both print and video.

This is information that interests more than just prospective students. It reaches anyone who is thinking about sending their child to college—thus making it relevant to a much larger target audience. It also helps prospective students see that the university is working to keep costs affordable.

The video is short and mobile-friendly—so it’s suitable for all types of digital channels.

The companion print piece is used in applications where you don’t want to have to wait for the user to do an online search. You want to hand it to them at a seminar or on campus.

Despite that it’s sometimes easy to think that a longer piece will scare off the reader, we made this piece bigger than expected. While we’re proponents of brevity, we wanted to  devote a full page to each idea to make it easy to read. The words float on a sea of color or white space—and are paired with simple but attention-getting graphics.
 This minimalist approach to design provides visual relief for the reader. It invites the reader in, and gives assurance that he or she won’t have to work too hard to digest more words.
 Make your ideas go down easily. Video—and print pieces that draw you in—are just two tools to help you do that.


CMBell Company Wins Creative Awards

Two creative projects produced by CMBell Company have received awards from the 11th Annual Service Industry Advertising Awards competition.

A merit award was given to the 9 Myths Video produced with the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. This video refutes nine myths associated with private nonprofit higher education.


A merit award was also given for Walla Walla University’s 2014 Student Employment Calendar—a piece sent to employers to promote hiring university students.

Approximately 1,700 entries were received in this year’s competition which was judged by a national panel of experts. The entries were judged on creativity, quality, message effectiveness, consumer appeal, graphic design and overall impact.

CMBell Company, now in their 17th year of business, is a local communications, branding and marketing firm led by President DeLona Lang Bell.

How Entertaining Can Increase Readership

One of the biggest challenges of any communicator is getting the attention of their target audience.

As businesses, our messages arrive at the consumer’s eyes and ears but are allowed in only with their permission. Very often, they’re not seeking what we have to say.

The entertain-engage method of communication is one way to break through the sea of communications. Give your target audience something they’re hungry for—whether it’s entertainment, inspiration or a mental break—before you give them the message you want them to absorb.

We recommended this method for a university’s recruiting piece we helped develop targeting high school sophomores. We know that messages that carry entertainment value are more likely to be allowed in, and chose to pay an irreverent visit to age-old clichés that parents use to get the readers’ attention and build a platform for a deeper message.

Besides increasing the chance for engagement with this audience, its unexpected approach provides a fresh take on college recruiting material—much of which looks very similar.

Are there opportunities for you to tell your brand’s story using this method?

Client Showcase: St. Anthony North 40-Year Collateral Piece

This is the final piece in a campaign to promote St. Anthony North Hospital's achievements via its 40-year anniversary. This printed piece serves as both a direct mail and a brochure that tells the hospital's story and casts a vision for its future. The campaign theme, "We," celebrates the team's efforts in reaching this milestone, while creating enthusiasm for the hospital's future. It pairs well with the employee video, where we build on a reality-style production to show what "we" means. 

The campaign included transit, outdoor boards, mall displays, building banners, kinetic typograpy, Web content, videos and print ads.

The focus of the messaging was not just about their accomplishments and plans for the future, but was a way to celebrate the achievements of the team, which always infuses energy into an organization.

We can't wait to see what they do together in the next 40 years.

How are you celebrating the achievements of the people who make your business successful? What company do you know that does this well?

Client Showcase: North Ridge Medical Practice Steps Ahead of the Competition in their Promotion

This new campaign for North Ridge Medical Practice in Colorado combined direct mail with a mini-animation ad—allowing for targeted advertising and putting them ahead of their competition by having a more Web-friendly, social media-friendly promotion. The presence of the mini-animation ad also delivers information in a format that consumers are showing preference for.

Physicians who can deliver strong, targeted messages using contemporary media will likely experience immediate growth in their practice if the message is right and the market has pent-up demand. You can see how they've used this on their website—and how it not only brings the Web page to life but reinforces their key brand messages.

Have you seen other physician practices breaking out of the print ad-only approach to promotion?

Client Showcase: A Direct Mail Piece That Won't Be Ignored

For their 100 year anniversary, the law firm of Gresham Savage wanted a direct mail piece for community leaders, clients and prospective clients that would make an unforgettable statement about their firm’s legacy. For this, we worked with them to create a handsome gift box that paired a brochure with a Gresham Savage pen and five custom-developed note cards that featured historical images of their community.

This allowed us to not only tell their story but to acknowledge the role their community has played in reaching this milestone. The vintage note cards showcase local sites and leave the recipient with a handsome collection of cards and envelopes to use as they see fit. It isn’t often that a direct mail piece delivers something of value to the recipient, but when it does, you can guarantee a higher level of impact.

Client Showcase: Law Firm Direct Mail Piece

When the growing southern California law firm of Gresham Savage brought on a successful new attorney, they wanted an announcement that would be memorable and impressive. We designed this five-panel piece to introduce him to their clients, using confident colors and sophisticated imagery to make a winning first impression.

This direct mail piece won a 2010 Silver Award in the 7th Annual Service Industry Advertising Awards.

Client Showcase: Using Direct Mail to Identify Qualified Leads

When St. Anthony North Hospital in Westminster, Colorado, called on us to get the word out quickly about upcoming classes, we created this colorful, engaging direct mail piece to send to their target market. Working within the corporate graphic standards, we developed a distinctive look for their class schedule, which helps drives qualified leads to key services.

Client Showcase: Pacific EP Invitation

We worked with the Los Angeles-based Pacific Rim Electrophysiology Research Institute, under the direction of internationally renown Koonlawee Nademanee, MD, to create an invitation for an open house promoting this remarkable facility.

Dr. Nademanee has developed an advanced cardiac electrophysiology procedure (EP) that offers new hope and vitality to patients suffering from EP problems. We also developed the logo for the Institute, which has offices on the campus of White Memorial Medical Center in California, as well as in Hawaii and Thailand.

This direct mail piece won a 2010 Silver Award in the 7th Annual Service Industry Advertising Awards.

Client Showcase: Hospice Direct Mail

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital is raising money for an innovative, home-like facility for hospice patients who are unable to live out their final days at home. This direct mail piece launched their fund-raising campaign for Cottage in the Meadow and revitalized conversations about living every stage of life fully.

The imagery of the piece reflects the idyllic setting of Cottage in the Meadow, inspiring the reader to become a part of something destined to matter deeply to those who need this kind of care.

Client Showcase: Using Testimonials to Promote Your Service

Littleton Adventist Hospital (LAH) wanted a piece to follow up on the successful “Littleton Loves Little Ones” campaign, reminding women why they should have their babies at LAH. To do this, we showcased real moms who chose Littleton. We then listed physicians who delivered at the hospital, and we encouraged recipients to “ask your doctor to take you to Littleton.”

The campaign garnered a Gold Award in the Aster Awards, a Silver Award in the 23rd Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards and a Bronze Leaf Award in the Colorado Healthcare Communicators Gold Leaf Awards. The direct mail piece itself won a Gold Award in the 4th Annual Service Industry Advertising Awards.

Marketing Makeover: Will your direct mail piece be read?

Good design can make the difference in whether a reader will pick up your direct mail piece and read it—or not. Here's an example of a direct mail piece from My Postcard Company that could benefit from a Marketing Makeover. Here's what we'd recommend:

  • Use fewer, but higher impact, photos. Photographs and images are what draw us into a piece. It's tempting to want to deliver too many messages via too many images, which results in reducing the piece's impact.
  • Create contrast. Using dark blue and black together like this is both hard to read and uninteresting visually.
  • Make a stronger promise, that speaks to something the reader cares about.
  • Avoid vague, cliche' taglines that don't intrigue or connect with the reader.

Because we all suffer from viewer fatigue, we dismiss anything that doesn't immediately catch our eye or speak to our interests. Effective communicators break through this by presenting a message the reader cares about and can grasp with minimal effort.

Send us a piece you'd like critiqued. It might be featured in our next Marketing Makeover.