A Surprise Ending
The last insert to appear in the package is a stark, black-and-white “Sweepstakes Facts” sheet. Although it lacks the splashy photography and snappy copy that defines its counterparts, this component is equally important in its message. “We know there are other [mailers] out there that do sweepstakes and aren’t as upfront, [or] in your face so to speak, about the rules,” Doll says. To remain in compliance with legal guidelines passed down from Southern Progress’ parent company, Time Inc., the fine print that typically is associated with a sweeps effort is very clearly defined. Oxmoor House ensures not only that the mailing’s rules and regulations are the first things seen when a prospect opens the package, but also that they’re in an easy-to-read typeface, printed on both sides of the page. “Our Southern Living audience that has been with us for years and years—they are getting older. We have requirements regarding the point size … there’s no way you’re going to miss the fact that this is a sweepstakes and these are the rules for it,” Doll affirms.
What was most intriguing about this effort, however, was not necessarily in the design elements that reportedly contributed to increased response, but rather which of the components did not.
Because Doll had tested numerous packages over the years in the search for a new control, she primarily attributed this year’s triumph to the new slow cooker fast fifty, added to support the recent inclusion of a chapter on slow cooking. While it is atypical for Oxmoor House to send an additional test in September along with the rollout of June’s winner (in this case, the new control), Doll wanted to know if her instincts about the slow cooker’s impact were, in fact, correct. As it turns out, they weren’t. Although final results aren’t available yet, the September test sans the slow cooker seems to be pulling even better than the package that originally beat the control. This, unsurprisingly, supports what she knew all along: assume nothing, test everything. “We thought the magic was the slow cooker,” Doll recounts, adding, “It’s just a strong package by itself.”