Bletchley Park Post Office -  First Day Covers
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Charity and Corporate Covers

 
 
Using first day covers as marketing or fundraising tools for Companies and Charities.

Having seen the beautiful cover we have produced for others in the gallery you may like to know what we could do for you.
The simplest way is to email us an outline brief to which we will respond with a few ideas.
But if you what to know a little bit more about us and first day covers, then read on

SUMMARY OF MARKETING BENEFITS
Bletchley Park Post Office first day and commemorative postal covers are 'little pieces of art and history' that become valued collector's items.
The principal benefits they provide over more conventional promotional products are summarised below.
First covers have an authenticated historical significance which is more likely to be valued.
Appeal can be enhanced by using themes linked to the first day of issue for a new stamp series or incorporate mint historic stamps.
First day and commemorative postal covers can grow in value as well as being retained by the recipient for their aesthetic appeal.
Corporate themes and messages can be communicated with greater depth and impact.

Limited editions become collector's items that are framed and displayed for greater visibility.
The cover can include brand building information which, when designed as part of the package, is also be retained.
The medium is relatively under exploited and offers great creative scope.
Variety of options can be offered on a single theme to provide high value presentation items or low cost give-aways.
Perceived value of postal covers can far exceed actual production costs.
Bletchley Park is recognised as a major heritage site of international importance and Bletchley Park Post Office a leading producer of unique postal covers.
Options that can be explored range from a limited edition featuring the work of an established artist as a high value corporate gift to a low cost promotional give-away.
Exploring these options using the philatelic and marketing expertise of Bletchley Park Post Office (BPPO) will help you get the most from this established but under used communications medium.
We hope that the contents of this page will spark off a few creative ideas of your own.

WHAT IS A FIRST DAY COMMEMORATIVE COVER?

A First Day Cover in its simplest form is just an envelope with a postage stamp cancelled on its first day of issue. 'Official' covers from a leading publisher such as Bletchley Park Post Office are considerably more collectable and open up many promotional opportunities.
Commemorative covers have a special postmark to mark the date of a specific event which does not have to coincide with the first day of issue for the postage stamp. The cover design depicts the event; for instance a sponsored sporting occasion or corporate anniversary.
The term 'cover' is used rather than 'envelope' as a reference to the practice of using some form of cover for a letter prior to the invention of envelopes. A cover dated 6th May 1840, when the Penny Black was issued, is now worth over 20,000 but the 2d Blue edition issued two days later is currently valued at 25,000. The first illustrated cover was issued in 1890 to celebrate the jubilee of the Penny Post. A Penny Black first day of issue cover recently added to the Royal Collection was purchased for 520,000
Legally there must be an address on an official first day cover, even though it is not meant to go through the postal system. Bletchley Park Post Office covers have the address printed discretely as part of the design.

THE RELEVANCE OF THE POSTMARK
BPPO covers are 'little pieces of art and history,' the cover design provides the 'art' whilst the official postmark that cancels the stamps authenticates the actual day of issue. Special postmarks were originally applied by hand so are usually referred to as a 'handstamp.'
Rare and unusual cancels can significantly influence the collectable value of a cover and some philatelists specialise in collecting postmarks. For the casual collector it is the relevance of the postmark to the place, or theme, depicted by the stamps and the cover that are important. Postmarks range from the simple circular date stamps used at local post offices to specially sponsored pictorial handstamps.
Sponsored pictorial handstamps can be designed to suit any occasion but do have to be issued by a Royal Mail Special Handstamp Centre. Fees for this are usually around 200 for each handstamp. Once issued the postmark is in the public domain. However, good timing can ensure that the sponsoring company is the only one to gain full benefit of its own special postmark.
Prior to 1980, First Day Covers would have their special handstamps hand applied by skilled Post Office staff, since then specialised machines have been used to speed up the process. BPPO small run limited editions are actually stamped by hand to provide the extra exclusivity of a 'handmade' article.

In addition to the postmark a cover can carry an extra handstamp known as a 'cachet.' These provide additional information about the occasion or the sponsor.
The expertise and knowledge of BPPO can pay dividends in deciding the best mix to produce a cover that meets your specific objectives.

THE INTEREST IN POSTAL COVERS
Interest in GB covers has grown significantly as a result of the Royal Mail Princess Diana and Millennium Stamp issues. This growth will be fuelled by continued promotion of Millennium stamps into 2001, plus wider recognition of the potential values that well produced limited edition covers can achieve.
Compared to many other collectibles postal covers appear undervalued, but that is starting to change as awareness grows. Examples of covers produced for promotional purposes by specialist producers only a few years ago are now valued in hundreds of pounds.
There is also a growing trend for non-collectors to display framed covers of particular interest to them as they would commemorative plates or limited edition prints. This provides a marketing medium where the high perceived value belies a relatively low production cost. In addition, the strong aesthetic and historic appeal means that commemorative covers, and the marketing messages they carry, will be valued and retained for a considerably longer period than promotional products of an equivalent unit price.

THE APPEAL AND VALUE OF LIMITED EDITION COVERS
Like many things, rarity is a factor of value.
Limited edition covers can leap in value immediately the edition closes and continue to appreciate. This investment value, as well as their unique aesthetic qualities, means that they are attracting much attention beyond that of the specialist collector. Particularly those where the postage stamps are 'cancelled' by a special hand stamp that ties in with the theme and overall cover design.
Even though it only started producing covers in 1994 some limited edition Bletchley Park covers are changing hands at nearly ten times their original face value.

Companies 'sponsoring' a limited edition cover would be providing their target markets with a brand building collectable that is set to grow significantly in interest and value, and at little cost to themselves.
The release of the 'Enigma' film during 2001 will bring Bletchley Park's secrets to the attention of the world and make authentic BPPO covers even more collectable.
An exclusive cover could also be linked to a corporate event at the Park to make it even more special as a memento of the host company.
Bletchley Park Post Office can even research and acquire historic mint stamps. This could be useful for commemorating an anniversary by designing a cover that incorporates a stamp from when the organisation was founded alongside its modern equivalent.

GENERATING IDEAS FOR A SPECIAL COVER
British postage stamp design is currently the prerogative of Royal Mail but the design of the cover and the cancellation hand stamp is left to the cover producer.
This means that envelope graphics and 'cancel' can be designed to produce a unique and distinctive cover to meet specific marketing objectives
Design ideas could involve;
An special hand stamp featuring your logo
Unique cover design promoting a key corporate message
Single and multiple stamp editions to provide a range of value options.
A mixture of historic and modern stamps
A series of covers that build into a collection.
Celebrity signature editions.
Specially framed and mounted editions for 'special' clients and publicity presentations.
To be effective the cover design must allow for accurate positioning of the postage stamps and the cancel, otherwise the aesthetic and value of the cover could be destroyed.
The experience and expertise of BPPO are therefore important to ensuring that these vital requirements are met.
Whereas a mailer design may attract attention and encourage recipients to absorb the message it rarely possesses any intrinsic value of its own and is usually discarded immediately. Covers are not replacements for mailers but promotional products in their own right that can have an appreciating value. Simply printing an envelope, stamping it and despatching through the postal system will usually remove, rather than add, any such value.
Variations in cover design would allow for a variety of limited editions to be produced around a central theme. Obviously the more limited an edition the higher its potential value.
Featuring the work of a well known, or rising artist, is an excellent way of raising the value, real and perceived, of a limited edition cover.
The cover design could be arranged by BPPO or produced from the client's own artwork.
Further marketing messages can be communicated using inserts within the cover and if these add to the theme of the cover they will also be retained by the recipient.
Within the communications matrix a first day or commemorative cover could be used as a;
promotional tool
publicity device
brand builder.
It can add far more value and message delivery capacity than many of the more usual forms of low cost promotional product.

MARKETING A FUND-RAISING COVER FOR CHARITY
First day and commemorative covers have proven to be very effective fund-raisers because they are retained and valued by recipients rather than discarded like many promotional items.
The potential to generate a number of variations around a central theme and maintain the limited edition status and appeal of the cover offers many cost effective opportunities.
Large and small charities could, through BPPO, produce a cover for limited distribution through their local networks or explore the potential for a corporately sponsored cover that opens up wider opportunities.
Sponsoring companies could offer the cover to;
Their employees
Their customers
Their suppliers
Their industry networks.
They may wish to create their own version of a cover using both their own and the charity's cancellation to give them;
stronger individual branding
a cover design that supports current marketing strategy
totally unique promotional tool
flexibility within their charitable donation policy
demonstration of community and social commitment
Using a postal cover in this way enables the charity and its sponsors, to deliver their respective messages in a way that can generate significant income at low cost.

BACKGROUND TO BLETCHLEY PARK POST OFFICE
A Sub Post Office has been located at the side of the famous 'Station X' mansion since it became a training centre in 1947. During the war years it would have been used as a post room from where despatch riders would have collected and delivered top secret mail.
Bletchley Park Post Office produced its first cover in 1994 to celebrate the opening of Bletchley Park to the Public. It has subsequently built a global reputation for high quality covers and is recognised as one of the top cover producers in the UK. The limited editions being highly sought after by international collectors with the income generated making major contributions to the work of Bletchley Park Trust in creating a world class heritage site.
Linking the established exclusivity and value of the Bletchley Park Post Office brand to your own brand image values will produce a first day or commemorative cover to promote your marketing message for many years to come.

LET BPPO HELP YOU EXPLORE THE POTENTIAL FURTHER
The purpose of this document has been to acquaint you with a medium that is 160 years old which in time may be replaced by a faster and cheaper electronic alternative. However, we are still a little way off the e-mail that will grow in value and look good on a wall!
The growth in interest for postal covers presents a great communications opportunity that innovative and forward thinking companies can exploit very effectively with a little help from BPPO.
The first stage is to brainstorm a few ideas as to how a first day or a commemorative cover could enhance your marketing campaign. The next step is to explore your initial ideas with BPPO. Looking through their portfolio of previously issued covers will demonstrate the creative versatility that can be achieved. We might even let you keep a cover or two!
BPPO will then respond with a fully costed and scheduled proposal based on your precise requirements.
For an exploratory discussion please contact us.

 
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