Blockbuster Direct Mail
In case you are wondering, the name for this direct mail award comes from direct mail veteran Axel Andersson, who, years ago, ran a hugely successful mail-order business in Germany. He currently resides in Florida, where he continues to study direct mail for his consultancy clients. It is Andersson's conviction that there is no better source of direct mail insight than the knowledge that can be gleaned from studying long-term controls, as well as the new controls that beat them.
What follows is an analysis of the 257 Grand Controls cataloged by the Who's Mailing What! Archive between 1995 and 2004, their similarities and their differences. You will not find catalog or retail traffic builders in this research, because they are one-offs that do not achieve control status; also, few B-to-B mailings remain consistent for a three-year span, so this sector is not represented significantly in this coverage.
What you will find are campaigns that are worth millions to their owners, who've spent countless testing dollars refining their efforts to produce these blockbusters—and the secrets of their success are a gold mine for you.
Controls Get Personal
The trend of tailoring direct mail to talk to recipients on an individual basis is a relatively new development that is not yet represented with long-term controls. But that doesn't mean successful direct marketers haven't made ample use of the personalization technologies at their disposal in the past 10 years.
Analysis of the 257 Grand Controls showed that 33.9 percent of these blockbuster mailings were personalized, compared to only 20.5 percent of all direct mail dropped during this same decade.
One of the reasons for this difference is that Grand Control mailings tended to be produced inline more often than efforts in the general mail stream. But, overall, Grand Control mailers, such as Easton Press (for more on this control, see page 31), were more likely to leverage personalization to get the prospect inside the envelope or to forge a connection via the letter.