Day-Timers Keeps It Simple to Drive Response
If a mailing has been control since at least 1997, it is successful and worth studying closely in order to figure out all the things it does right.
Simple, elegant, benefit-oriented, persuasive, easy-to-orderall five adjectives apply to this long-term control for Day-Timers. The control package is comprised of just four elements: an outer envelope, letter, brochure and order form.
The Outer Envelope
A two-color, 73/4" x 103/4", window envelope with a pleasant light-green clock design, Day-Timers corporate cornercard and three promises: 1) "Spend a minute. Save and hour"; 2) "It's all about you"; 3) "FREE GIFTS! See inside for details."
One trick worth noting: a Bulk Rate stamp affixed ever so slightly tilted. In the words of the great Canadian direct mail designer, Ted Kikoler, "Anything that makes the mailing look like it was touched by a human hand should help it."
Day-Timers also has mailed a version with a pre-printed indicia.
A two-page, 4-over-1 personalized letter, with a bold promise at the very top: "If you can spare a minute, we can save you an hour." A large space exists between the name/address block and the salutation.
This is a truly fascinating technique, in that the first thing anyone sees at the top of that block is:
At the bottom is the bar code.
Clearly this is NOT a personal letter and violates the late Dick Benson's rule that "A letter should look like a letter."
But a huge spacefully one inchexists between the name/address block (that shows through the window) and the salutation below. By the time your eye reaches the salutation, it is unaware of all that U.S. Postal Service-required copy way above and, indeed, the letter is "all about you."
Freelance copywriter and consultant Malcolm Decker once wrote in this publication:
The letter must be quickly scannable: That is, a reader should get the gist of the proposition simply by reading the: (1) eyebrow [Johnson box or headline]; (2) lead paragraph; 3) crossheads; (4) wrap-up; (5) P.S.
This effort follows those rules exactly. Example: The crossheads (in slightly larger type): "Save an hour each day," and "See for yourselfSAVE $53.96."
At the bottom of the first page, the entire financial proposition is spelled out; the regular cost of the four items is $93.95, and the letter screams "SAVE 57%, you pay only $39.99."
By the time you reach the bottom of page one of the letter, you can make a decision. The second page has more reassuring information if you want it.
Do people actually bother to read page two? Some may. But in the words of the great writer-designer Fred Briesmeister, who put Greystone Publishing on the map in the 1950s and 1960s: "The copy is there if you want to read it and besides, if we've got that much to say, it must be a good product."
The four-color brochure that opens up to 91/4" x 15" is a replica of the Day-Timers book cover in genuine leather. Open the four-page brochure, and you have an inside spread that looks exactly as your book will look when opened. The difference: call-outs to point out the various features.
At bottom right are the two response premiums, a pocket electronic data organizer and a note pad that matches the theme of the planner. Over the years Day-Timers has tested several premiums, including personalized memos and a music CD.
This brochure masterfully brings to life Ted Cackler's dictum that the designer's task is to "Put the product directly into the prospect's hands."
The Order Form
The most interesting piece in the mailing is the 4-over-1 personalized order form that is printed with the 4-over-1 personalized letter, and then burst. All elements, by the way, travel flat in the envelopeno unfolding necessary, except for opening the brochure.
The offer is the Day-Timers planner to use for 90 days risk-free. You are given a choice of three bindings: black, brown or burgundy leather. Since this mailing dropped in October 2001, there is no choice on the planner's start datewhich is January 2002. Otherwise, the prospect could choose to start his or her planner before the beginning of the next year.
Day-Timers has a large selection of products, but this effort offers only one, at only one price$39.99 (plus $7.99 shipping and handling). As Dick Benson said, "Never try to sell two things at once, and never give the prospect too many choices."
The order form follows the rules exactly:
* It is in the voice of the customer. ("YES!, please send me my Day-Timer to use..."). As Malcolm Decker explains, the two main salesmenthe letter and the circularhave had their say with "you" copy (the letter) and "it" copy (the brochure). Now it is the respondent's turn to speak.
* It reprises the offer in the mailing.
* It lists all the features.
* It shows the two premiums.
* It has a cut-off date, after which you are ineligible to receive the premium.
* It has a guarantee ("If it doesn't help me put time on my side, I may return it and owe nothing... no questions asked").
* It offers FREE personalization.
* It makes it very easy to orderby toll-free phone or fax or by mail.
* It does not ask for money.
* It does ask for a daytime phone, fax and e-mail.
But two aspects of the order form make it very, very different from anything that is out there.
1. Absolutely no mention of the Day-Timers Web site. The URL appears nowhere on the mailing, and you are not able to order on the Web. Some would argue that this cuts off an ordering channel and flies in the face of Elsworth Howell's dictum, "Make it as easy as possible for the customer to order." On the other hand, if a prospect is about to order and suddenly sees a URL, he might say "Ah, let me go to the Web site and see what else they have..." The thread of concentration is broken, the order form is put aside and the order is lost. It is imperative to test your mailings with and without the URL and track results carefully. My bet is that the inclusion of a URL depresses response.
2. No BRE. To mail in your order, you simply fold the order form in half, tape it shut and drop it in the mail. Once folded, the Business Reply Face is on one side and the "100% Satisfaction Guarantee" signed by Dave Clark, president of Day-Timers, can be found on the back. Day-Timers can do this because it is implicitly not asking for payment upfront. The lack of a BRE doesn't allow the momentum of responding to be interrupted by even the hint of an option to pay with order.
If I had written and designed this effort and received a couple of pennies royalty on each piece mailed, I would vacation in the South of France every year. Oh well, the Jersey shore ain't all bad.
Denny Hatch is a freelance copywriter and consultant, founder of Who's Mailing What! (now Inside Direct Mail) and former editor of Target Marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.methodmarketing.com.