AFAR Magazine Starts From Scratch
Since this was a launch direct mail campaign, Simkins did much more testing than she's accustomed to. Mailing against this default control, AFAR sent multiple packages, testing different outers, order cards, price points and even the offer formats-the control uses a yes-no-maybe sticker involvement device, which was tested against two-year offers, "pay now to take $5 off" and ordering online.
With the first issue out as of Aug. 18, Simkins says AFAR Media was happy with the results and learned quite a bit from testing. The default control will remain the magazine's control mailer, with a few minor tweaks: The guts of the package will stay the same, but one of the test outers will actually be rolled out as the control.
Thanks to great communication and teamwork between the AFAR staff and Quint & Quint, AFAR was able to capture the vision of the magazine even with no point of reference from which to work. "The real challenge for us was not having a product to work from at this point," admits Simkins. "Typically for an established publication, you go to work with a creative outfit, you have a year's worth of magazines to send them, and they can really wrap their head around what the magazine is about and visually what it looks like. We were at a disadvantage there, but I really appreciate from our creative outfit to work very closely with our editor and our creative person to make sure that it hit on target.
"Obviously going forward, now that we have a magazine, it's going to make it easier, and we're testing integrating some of the design and look of the magazine to see how that works."
Give Them a Taste
When faced with offer after offer, consumers want to know just what it is they can expect from the product or service being pushed on them in the mail. It's even more important to give a preview when your product is brand-new. That's what AFAR magazine did with its "Find yourself in AFAR" insert in its initial direct mail campaign, which relays five individuals' experiential travel stories. "These are ... based on actual stories from somebody in their travel experiences," shares Laura Simkins, audience marketing and planning director for AFAR Media. "A couple of them appear in the magazine."