A Real Page Turner
In its control acquisition packagea #10 red envelope with the visage of namesake/labor organizer Mary Harris JonesMother Jones magazine tells a lot about what it covers.
In a new-to-us effort, the magazine shows what it covers. Done up like an actual issue, complete with a big, goofy caricature of a big-hatted George W. Bush, the mailing asks:
True or False?
President George W. Bush has been nominated for a Nobel Peace prize.
The Pentagon has lost some nukes.
Getting on an airplane is safer than getting medical care.
See inside for answers.
The piece opens up to a three-page letter from Publisher Jay Harris, and then on to what's trumpeted on the front cover as a "free sample," which is basically a spread of the kind of stories that appear in the magazine.
The Archive had never received a magalog from Mother Jones previously, but this month received two, each with its own price point (see Ideas in Action below). Both are strikingly reminiscent of a magalog sent out by the Economist from 1996 to 2001.
We're assuming Mother Jones is testing format and offers. We were wondering what their tack might be. While Mother Jones did not return phone calls, we talked with freelance direct mail consultant Lea Pierce about the benefits of the magalog format.
"You can give people a lot more tantalizing information," explains Pierce. "It's a copy-intensive format that allows you to really present all the goodies in a magazine. ... A magalog is always content driven more than offer driven."
Indeed, it would seem that a magazine mailing that looks and feels like the magazine might go beyond the "show 'em what you've got" approach. The magalog gives its recipient the feel-good vibes of what it's like to be an actual subscriberto find said magazine in the mailbox.
"What will be interesting is not only responsewhether it improves over their current packagebut how [respondents] convert," says Pierce. "A new creative approachand this applies across the board, but especially in publishingmight bump up the number of new subscribers, but how they convert is what's most important."
The more graphic-intensive approach led us to wonder whether Mother Jones might be targeting a younger audience. Pierce believes that without knowing what lists Mother Jones is using, it would be hard to determine if that were the strategy. But the graphics-laden approach is reflective of an industry-wide swing, she says.
"I think that it is very true that there is a demand for all creative across the board to become more visual," says Pierce. "I think consumers are becoming more visual."