Brochures Powering Magazine Mail Pieces
Many magazine publishers shifted their direct mail efforts to vouchers a long time ago, much to the chagrin of all the creatives — copywriter, designers, direct marketers, circulation consultants — previously involved. But vouchers worked. They cost much less to produce, and while response went down considerably, overall ROI improved for many.
But this is not a discussion about the validity of the voucher. Rather, it's about how many magazine publishers are now infusing their vouchers with new, creative life: the four-color, multi-paneled brochure.
While such brochures are responsible for the so-called "hybridization" of the voucher, they've been relatively uncommon until recently. Now, it's not unusual to see them in nearly a third to half of all voucher efforts for magazines.
In our March batch of mail in the Who's Mailing What! Archive, in fact, I found over a dozen brochures in roughly the 30 magazine vouchers that I peered into. Below are six outstanding examples of using the brochure to truly power the mail piece (and see accompanying images of each magazine's outer envelope and brochure in the mediaplayer to the right).
1. Cook's Country (Archive code #202-699105-1003)
Brochures are often used to showcase the magazine. Here, Cook's Country using it as a "sneak preview" alongside several clever marketing messages, such as a brief testimonial from The Kansas City Star and the line, "Hurry - Supplies are extremely limited!"
2. IMAGE (Archive code #202-700267-1003)
The #10 envelope from IMAGE, a journal produced by the Center for Religious Humanism, is truly hybrid, for while it includes an order card, it also includes a four-page letter, a lift note, and a gorgeous brochure that shows the kind of art that IMAGE depicts in its pages. Inside, the panels are also very text-heavy, telling the prospect exactly what kind of journal it is: "IMAGE, unlike most other journals, takes both art and religion seriously, seeing in each a quest for the truth."
Later, after being told to "HURRY! ACT NOW!", it even mentions that "IMAGE is not a mass circulation magazine, so you won't be receiving a promotion in the mail every other month. This may be your only chance to see for yourself the exciting new developments in art and religion ..." If that's not enough to sway prospects, then the five testimonials from "religious and art leaders" on the back panel may be.
3. The New Yorker (Archive code #202-171630-1003)
Responsible for an impressive array of direct mail, The New Yorker uses a larger window on its #10 envelope next to the words "DO NOT BEND." Inside, the professional discount and reply form is all there is, beside a mini-brochure that also goes with the minimalist strategy: Covers of New Yorker issues with one word placed above, such as "Discover" and "Savor." Then on the flip side of the panels, only names (of critics, book authors, poets, cartoonists and other writers). All that for "Just 63¢ An Issue."
4. TV Guide (Archive code #202-171975-1003)
Ah, the fake-barcode-that-must-be-something! envelope. Thank you, TV Guide, which hopes it gets opens. If not, perhaps the teaser "New enhanced TV listings! See inside" will. As promised, the inside delivers a star-filled brochure all about TV Guide Magazine and what kinds of issues the prospect can expect.
5. Wilson Quarterly (Archive code #202-171754-1003)
The fairly plain 7-3/4" outer for Wilson Quarterly changes dramatically for its colorful six-panel brochure. Titled "An offer for the passionately curious," the cover features an image of a tank at war, with the words "World War IV" above it. Then it delves into the hard-hitting issues and ideas it covers, sometimes asking questions — "Is global warming really the most pressing environmental question?" — and other times answering them ("What does China Want?").
6. The Economist (Archive code #205-172583-1003)
Last, but certainly not least, The Economist rolls out a well-branded, attractive brochure in its #10 voucher package. Like The New Yorker, mailings from The Economist vary in format and approach, but the brand stays very much front and center. Here, on the brochure, The Economist red dominates and they focus on their content. The first panel states, simply, "Don't miss out on the issues," with four magazine covers appearing below. Inside, they essentially deliver an editorial calendar. Then two panels are devoted to testimonials from famous, successful folks like Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt and Christiane Amanpour.