Baby Steps to a New Format
In the latter half of 2002, Cook's Illustrated got inventive with the package contents of an envelope effort for a cookbook series.
Instead of the typical assortment of letter, brochure, order card and buckslips that present variations of the sales message, the publisher boils down the ingredients to just two: a multi-fold form that holds the letter and order card, plus a BRE.
We noted in our Oct. 2002 issue that Cook's Illustrated had sent last year a book offer sans brochure to current customersfiguring that they already have an understanding of the quality of the publisher's products.
Its new pared-down format, which mails in a #7 outer envelope, has been spotted twice in Cook's mail plan. Both times the packages sold the company's book continuity program for "The Best Recipe Series."
In what is likely to be a test to see which book title draws more prospects and customers into the continuity, Cook's first tried its luck in August 2002 with a 14-day trial of "Italian Classics." A red color scheme dominated this mailing (101COOILL0802), which is important to compare to the next effort (mailed to the same prospect) sent out in October.
The second package made the same 14-day free examination offer, but served up the "Soups and Stews" volume in an effort that is accented with a green color scheme (101COOILL1002). Wisely, Cook's spiced up the offer by dramatizing the 50-percent discount price in the headline of the order card.
At first blush, this pint-sized effort seemed like just another example of the smaller, more cost-effective formats that many marketers favored in 2002; upon examination of the Archive's filings for Cook's Illustrated, however, we found double postcards from 2001 that sold the same continuity book program.
Rather than make a big leap in 2002 to a 6" x 11-1/2" outer envelope format or an 8-1/2" x 11" polybag, Cook's chose a more moderate progression from a self-mailer format to an envelope package that encloses an all-in-one form, much like a double or triple postcard.
The copy in the envelope format is an expanded-upon version of the text in the double postcard, but it is souped up with more examples of the book's content, and the offer elements are more fully supported.
The only missing element from the double postcard to the envelope format is the personalization of the prospect's name on the letter text. The reason for the personalization on the double postcard is its ability to capture the attention of the prospect and lead her to the start of the letter copy. The format of an envelope package, with its separate elements, naturally accomplishes this goal.
Even though this new control format does not feature separate elements, the all-in-one form is segmented into sections by the design: order card at the top; followed by a thick green bar that spotlights promo copy and a photo of the book; and then finally, the letter.
In all, it's a great way to spin out a prior direct mail control into a new format that can bring renewed attention to the product.