Archive Observations: Survey Says, Back to School & Grand Controls
Winning back lapsed subscribers to one's publication can mean trying a variety of rates, likely starting with the very best one, or even mailing a redressed acquisition offer, perhaps reminding the customer of why they subscribed in the first place.
Three renewals received in August added another tactic: a reader survey. The Nation (Archive code #710-171640-0908) tipped its hand with "Yes" and "No" checkboxes on the front of the 4-1/4" x 7-1/2" envelope, and the teaser: "It's time to cast your vote." The letter writer (a circulation manager) fears that each subscriber loss is a "resounding vote of NO." On the reverse side of the letter, the expired subscriber is quizzed about his likes and dislikes about the magazine, as well as news source preferences and TV viewing habits. To "help us improve our product and service," The Philadelphia Inquirer (Archive code #710-172585-0908) mailed a 5" x 8-1/2" triple postcard with a brief (six-question) survey about the newspaper, and more specifically, service issues: delivery, customer service and billing.
There are only a few questions asked of former subscribers to Don Dion's ETF Report (Archive code #710-707478-0908); instead, there's half a page for the reader to talk about "what information they would like to see," as well as share any other comments. Smartly, all three mailings include a bill-me offer to renew their subscriptions.
Welcome Back? ... to School!
Depending on who you talked to, it was the best of times, or the worst of times. For retailers in August, the back-to-school season was a chance to boost sales in the sharpest recession in 25 years. The most common tools to bring shoppers in were coupons and savings cards. To "rule the school," Dick's Sporting Goods (Archive code #910-688348-0908) mailed a 6" x 11" postcard that included two coupons, one for up to $20 off a purchase, the other for earning bonus points on a ScoreCard Rewards account with a purchase.
Both Target catalogs, one for the college audience, the other, K-12 (Archive code #910-637355-0908A & #910-637355-0908B) include staple-bound coupon books for essential items like toothpaste, crackers, batteries and kids' apparel. Kohl's (Archive code #910-402855-0908A) reached out to its best customers with a spot-glued card good for an "extra 15% off everything" on a 5-1/4" x 7-1/4" self-mailer featuring fashions by Avril Lavigne and Tony Hawk. For younger kids (toddlers to elementary), The Children's Place (Archive code #910-652201-0908) mailed "The TCP Times," a 16-page magalog of specially priced apparel, and a 20 percent coupon as a further sales boost.
Grand Control Update & Profile
In August, five mailings became Grand Controls (controls in the mail for three or more years). The latest include: CARE USA (Archive code #605-171594-0908B), GEICO (Archive code #420-171960-0908A) and GE Service Management (Archive code #347-180039-0908).
The latest mailing by Disabled American Veterans (Archive code #604-172730-0908) to achieve Grand Control status has been in the mail since at least August 2004. In most respects, it's a great example of why DAV has been one of the most successful nonprofit fundraisers. The Annual Calendar Campaign effort was mailed in a 9-1/2" x 12-1/2" Kraft envelope that feels heavy, but aside from a vague teaser, "IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS ENCLOSED," offers no clue to what lies inside.
Once opened, the mailing's components spill out: There's a lovely, four-color 9" x 11-1/2" patriotic calendar, and a sheet of U.S. flag stickers. DAV has always been generous with its freemiums, even before the days of the legendary Max Hart, the former DAV fundraising director.
The two-page letter, rife with references to "you" and "your," thanks the "loyal supporter" for her previous donations: "You make some mighty good things happen." But, with its large Courier type font, a helpful touch for older folks, the letter doesn't allow for much explanation of specific DAV service programs. That job is left to a two-sided insert, listing various ways to "Reach Out to Disabled Vets." Affixed to the CRE are live 4- and 5-cent stamps, a personal touch that's a proven response-booster.
Speaking of Grand Controls, the greatest of all is Martin Conroy's "2 Young Men" mailing for The Wall Street Journal, which earned well over $1 billion in its run from 1974 to 2003. The letter's story is one that has been imitated over the years by mailers selling investments, magazines, warranties, newsletters, and, even legal research, but incredibly, never insurance ... until now. An offer promoting a hospital confinement plan was mailed by AAA Life Insurance Co. (Archive code #440-182432-0908) in August.
The first page of the eight-page letter starts by asking the prospect to imagine a hypothetical hospital stay. A similar accident befalls someone else, who is covered by similar major medical. But, the target is told, because "you tapped into another source of protection," that "key difference" means a different financial outcome. From there, it's business as usual, with plenty of copy describing the policy's benefits, and low initial cost.