Archive Observations: A Look at the Ex-Files
Three offers from March's mailstream illustrate the importance of setting the right tone in renewing a former customer. Discover Card (Archive code #540-174144-0903C) mailed a blind #9 OSE with an offer to an ex-cardholder for its More Card. "You are important to us, and we want to do everything to win you back," the letter begins, then goes on to a standard pitch. The opening of the letter for DIRECTV (Archive code #581-638018-0903A) is a little less effusive: "We've missed you." In both mailings, the sales copy is identical to their acquisition efforts.
Standing in sharp contrast is a dead expire effort for the financial newsletter Morningstar Mutual Funds (Archive code #710-706343-0903). The teaser on the #10 OSE, "We've missed you—and we want you back!" is followed by bullet points promising "Enhancements," "Extra Content" and an "Old-Friends Discount." The letter inside acknowledges the "difficult market," but offers reassurance to one who "has benefited from our reports and commentaries." The substantial discount and 30-day risk-free period also incentivize the customer to renew the relationship.
The onset of Spring means the annual explosion of offers for outdoor home and garden care, often with a maximum use of four-color photography to make any homeowner green with envy. A 5-1/4" x 8-1/4" single postcard for Lawn Doctor (Archive code #356-171895-0903B) shows a smiling family enjoying their "beautiful and green" lawn. A 6" x 9-1/2" single postcard for SavATree (Archive code #356-717584-0903) likewise features a family, but this time tending a tree. An offer by Scotts Co. (Archive code #356-174122-0903A) at first glance appears to be some sort of local tax bill; the gray OSE's only front copy is "Property Update." The letter inside is mostly devoid of color. Instead, the offer copy is all about the special price for the first customized lawn treatment for the season. The back of the letter spells out five additional reasons to order the service.
Grand Control Update & Profile
In March, the overall count of Grand Controls (controls in the mail for three or more years) inched closer to 1000, as 13 new mailings joined the crowd. Among those added were offers from the Parkinson Research Foundation (Archive code #604-705180-0903), St. Jude's League (Archive code #609-174565-0903), Mutual of Omaha (Archive code #450-171627-0903), The New Yorker (Archive code #202-171630-0903), and three from Omaha Steaks (Archive codes #355-171626-0903B, #355-171626-0903C and #910-171626-0903).
The offer for the consumer newsletter DogWatch (Archive code #250-433382-0903) has been in the mail since at least March 2001-and given the classic tactics it uses, it's easy to see why it works. The bold teaser on the front of the #12 OSE is certainly attention-getting: "THINK LIKE A DOG." From the rest of the teaser copy on the front, as well as the fascinations-like questions on the back, it seems that the veterinarians at the newsletter want the dog owner (the prospect), to practice some "method marketing" by following their advice. The letter promises that the "secret" information that allows some people to happily raise their dog can be found in the pages of the newsletter, and answers to the questions from the outer envelope are also provided.
Knowledge is reinforced as an important selling point in the lift note, which tells a story that borrows heavily from Martin Conroy's classic Wall Street Journal Grand Control, the "2 Young Men" letter. "What makes the difference in a dog's behavior?" it asks, and then answers, "what each pet owner knows." By my reckoning, this is the most successful Conroy imitation of the dozen or so instances in which I've seen it used.
Another throwback is the inclusion of the YES, NO and MAYBE stickers on the reply card. Invented by John Francis Tighe, they've been rarely used over the years, most notably in offers for American Demographics and Financial World magazines. Here, they show through a square window on the outer envelope, working in combination with the magic word "free" that appears twice.