A Recipe for Success
Since 1997, one tell-tale sign that the holiday season is fast approaching in the Who's Mailing What! Archive has been the white #10 envelope of Collin Street Bakery's prospecting control. So, you can imagine our surprise this fall when instead we saw a very different effort from Collin Street make its debut as the bakery's new control.
One of the ingredients that helped this new package unseat that long-standing control is clear right from your first look at the full-color, #10 outer envelope; in large, bold letters directly above the address window is the phrase, "Native Texas Pecan Cakes' (Archive code #355-172562-0411B). According to Robert Means, direct mail manager for Collin Street Bakery, the bakery has been testing this repositioning of its product line since 2001. This new focus moves away from the more traditional "fruitcake" nomenclature and focuses on what makes Collin Street's cakes different: the native Texas pecans used to make them, as illustrated in the package's two-page letter:
We use native Texas pecans because they have a better flavor ...
But the pecans are not the only thing that warrant focus in this package. Another key to its success, according to package copywriter Gary Hennerberg, is that it offers double frees: free coffee and free U.S. delivery.
First tested in the original control, the offer for free Cinchona coffee, states Means, has been a very effective enticement for prospects. So in this package, the offer gets much more prominent billing than before, mentioned on both the front and back of the outer envelope, on the front and back of the full-color 81/2" x 11" brochure, in its own full-color insert, on the reply form and BRE, and it is the first thing prospects read in the letter:
FREE COSTA RICAN CINCHONA COFFEE ... I will give you a quarter pound of Costa Rican Cinchona Coffee FREE with the first Native Texas Pecan Cake you order during the next 10 days.
The free U.S. delivery gets its fair share of mention too, featured pretty much everywhere that the coffee offer is, except for the back of the outer and the BRE.
Another special part of Collin Street's direct mail recipe is the use of an eye-catching outer and longer copy in both the letter and brochure, states Hennerberg. This longer copy allowed Hennerberg to delve into the narrative of the native Texas pecan, provide rich detail about Collin Street's pecan cakes and sell that effective offer. In the brochure in particular, the longer copy complements a new, warmer style of photography to create an enticing image that tells prospects this is not their grandmother's fruitcake:
Big, flavorful slices of sweet, succulent apricots abound in every bite ... tasting our glaced pineapple, freshly harvested from our very own farms in Costa Rica, will transport you to a tropical paradise ...
Although some companies are eager to roll out winning packages after just one or two successful tests, Collin Street Bakery is much more cautious, testing repeatedly within its customer file before rolling out into its 7.5 million household international and domestic prospecting plan. After four successful tests, this year marks the package's first full rollout.
And Collin Street continues to test, this year also mailing a 6" x 9" envelope package (Archive code #355-172562-0411A) that did not beat the control, but did offer Means and his direct mail team some valuable insight. So just because it has found a winner this year, don't be surprised to see a new Collin Street effort circulating as the next holiday season approaches.