Adopting the Lesser Approach
What do you do when the majority of your target market knows your name, what you do, and what you stand for?
You make it fast, cheap and simple. That's been the mantra of periodical
publishers, as the voucher package has been their circulation-building dynamo. As of yet, not many association mailers have hopped on the "less is more" bandwagon. But in April, the Who's Mailing What! Archive received a 43/4" x 71/2" membership-acquisition appeal from the American Medical Association (AMA) that gets right to the point (571AMMEAS0404). The
effort includes just a simple, perforated order form, a 33/4" x 7" brochure (folded) and a BRE, and offers prospects an introductory annual membership for $45.
"The [AMA] didn't have to start their argument way back, and explain exactly what they do and how they do it. They make it quick and easy for a busy physician to sign up for membership," says freelance copywriter and direct mail guru Alan Rosenspan, who has worked with numerous association mailers, including The Direct Marketing Association, the Bank Marketing Association, The New England Direct Marketing Association and the Professional Insurance Marketing Association. "This technique has been used quite a bit in publishing to win back recent subscribers; in credit card marketing, where the rate is all people care about; and even for nonprofits. Do you really need to know what the Red Cross does?"
With this piece, one could easily see how the AMA is targeting young resident doctors who are too busy to peruse all the elements of a standard direct mail package. What's more, the creative is informally cutesy: Featured on the outer envelope is a cartoon image of a physician in a white lab coat stepping onto oversized, symbolic hands, with the adjoining teaser, "Plan now for a successful practice. See inside ..." On the back of the carrier, AMA employs quick points to spur a resident to open it: "FREE with your AMA membership: Making the Right Practice Choice guide; Physician Recognition Award (PRA) Certificate; Physician Profiles."
And aside from the brochure, which talks about the benefits of membership, the AMA makes very little mention throughout the package about its organization and what it doessave for a small chunk of copy on the back of the order form:
The medical profession has long subscribed to the Principles of Medical Ethics, which provides the ethical guidelines for practicing physicians and was created by the AMA.
While we can't readily gauge the mailing's effectiveness, Rosenspan
believes its creative lacks a certain punch. "There was no big idea, no feeling of belonging that came through, no compelling benefits," he says. "Maybe it's a no-brainer for physicians to join, but I didn't think this was a hardworking piece."