Direct Mail

Famous Last Words: A Direct Marketing Horror Story
April 4, 2006

Many years ago, Meredith Book Clubs, headquartered on Long Island, N.Y., lost $250,000—a considerable sum in 1968. I was hired to fix the problem. The offer was neat—seven mini-cookbooks as a free gift with (as I recall) a four-book commitment and bonus books, just like Book-of-the-Month or Literary Guild. However, I was stunned to learn many brand new members were canceling before they even received the premiums. It was truly mystifying. The first thing a new member should have received was the welcome package containing the seven free books; a warm, welcome letter that resold the benefits of the club; and precise instructions on how the negative

Manage Your Mail Costs
March 14, 2006

Good planning and collaboration with production partners can save you money Postage prices continue to increase, as does the pressure to improve profitability. Direct marketers who depend on traditional printed promotions as one of their most responsive channels are again looking for ways to increase sales and reduce costs. Here’s a look at some of the printing and production techniques available that help trim costs, as well as best practices that can help you take advantage of these techniques. Collaborate With Your Resources “Collaborate with your package designers and writers,” recommends Bill Christensen, a direct response creative and marketing

I Was Peter Possum
March 14, 2006

In the 1960s, Grolier Enterprises was run by four dynamos: Founder Elsworth (The Shark) Howell, whose real love was judging dog shows; Vice President Bob Clarke, who started in the Grolier mail room; Vice President of Marketing Ed Bakal, a rough-hewn ex-paratrooper; and Vice President of Creative Lew Smith, a low-key, creative genius. Grolier’s business at the time was selling Dr. Seuss books to kids. The competition was Weekly Reader Book Club and Scholastic’s paperback book clubs, which sold books to students in classrooms through the teacher. Using the Scholastic paperback model, a guy named Joe Archy started the Willie Whale Book Club. Howell watched it

Taking Risks,
Increasing Response
March 9, 2006

Assurity Life Insurance Co. is a study in innovation, change and risk-taking—from its history to its direct mail program. Innovation: In 1890, Dr. E. O. Faulkner created Modern Woodmen Accident Association because he saw a need to make accident coverage available to working people—not just the wealthy. This Lincoln, Neb., company continued to expand and add products over the next century. Change: In 1954, three Woodmen companies were merged to create Woodmen Accident and Life Co., and in 1997, the Assurity Life Insurance Co. was formed as a subsidiary of Woodmen Accident and Life. Risk-taking: Assurity Direct, the direct marketing division of Assurity Life,

Catalog and Direct Selling: Track Retail Results
March 4, 2006

In the mid 1990s, most direct marketers captured about 80 percent of their orders with source codes. What a difference a decade makes! Today, if multichannel direct marketers capture 50 percent of their orders with source codes, they are doing well. Tracking response to a direct response promotion in a retail environment can be particularly challenging. Barcodes certainly help. When you mail a postcard that’s also the response device, e.g., “Bring this postcard to your nearest store to receive your discount,” you can track a portion of your orders with a high level of accuracy. However, any direct marketer who has tried it knows

Boost Customer Confidence
March 4, 2006

I recently spoke with a client who said he was having trouble getting customers (not prospects) to respond to his direct mail offer because they said it sounded “too good to be true.” The offer is a club membership. Membership provides church choir directors with regular shipments of new choral products like sheet music and full-length demo CDs to preview before buying. Membership also includes a rebate that lets customers recover the entire cost of membership with their first order. The preview products are “theirs to keep” at no additional cost, whether or not they order. The goal of the Choral Club mailing is

The Many Paths of Direct Marketing
March 1, 2006

To remain relevant to customers and boost the bottom line, today’s direct marketing campaigns must move across the borders of direct marketing media nimbly and fluidly. More importantly, marketing channels need to work in unison so that prospects and customers receive not only a consistent message, but one that builds a case for your products and brand. Does your direct mail creative prominently feature a Web site address where customers can find out more about your product and the particular offer being pitched? Do your search engine marketing (SEM) efforts coordinate with your print ad copy? There are many ways to integrate offline and

Response Down?
February 1, 2006

This past November, former Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy died at the age of 89. It was McCarthy, a bookish, low-key intellectual, who, you’ll recall, startled the country and the world by announcing he would challenge the incumbent president, Lyndon B. Johnson, for the 1968 Democratic nomination. Johnson was mired in the Vietnam War with hundreds of body bags coming home every week. McCarthy made his announcement in the Senate Caucus Room in the Capitol. He said, “My decision to challenge the president’s position and the administration position has been strengthened by recent announcements of the administration, the evident intention to escalate and to intensify the

5-Minute Interview: Christopher Cleghorn, Easter Seals
February 1, 2006

On Jan. 8, 2006, the U.S. Postal Service implemented a postal rate increase of approximately 5.4 percent for Standard Mail and 3 percent for Nonprofit Standard Mail. It’s the first increase since 2002, and was established to fulfill the requirement of a federal law passed in 2003 that commands the Postal Service to establish a $3.1 billion escrow account, with use of the funds to be determined by Congress at a later date. Christopher Cleghorn, executive vice president, direct and interactive marketing for Chicago-based nonprofit Easter Seals, spoke with Target Marketing on how the increase may affect his organization’s direct mail efforts. Target Marketing: What is

Stretch Your Postal Dollars
January 1, 2006

The new year is a good time to review your direct mail efforts and look for opportunities to get more from your investment. Whenever you're paying for postage, you want your mail piece to work as hard as possible to achieve your marketing goals. With that in mind, here are 15 suggestions to help you maximize your direct mail investment in 2006.