Details Drive Response
In direct mail, the presence of choice halts momentum, which can impede response. But choice can impact direct mail campaigns in an entirely different way: Culture experts are pointing to a societal trend of choice overload that is causing people to fret over every decision they face, whether it be what kind of car to drive, which cell phone plan is best or where to go on vacation.
Take the family vacation, for instance. This slice of Americana often challenges parents to come up with the perfect getaway for all family members.
Smuggler's Notch Vermont responds to overwhelmed parents' need for details and, most importantly, reassurance, with a self-mailer (520SMNORE0503A) loaded with four-color photos and complete resort information.
Nancy Illeman, the marketing maestro of Smuggler's Notch, declined to share her secrets, noting that her competition is already copying key features of the resort's programs. While we can't be certain everything Illeman is doing works like gangbusters, we can tell you what got our attentionand what we'd emphasize even more.
According to the Archive, the resort mails seasonally to promote summer, fall and winter vacation packages. Summer campaigns seem to get more attention, since the Archive has received, almost annually, a large poly-bagged effort containing several inserts and a 28-page guide selling the summer season. (We learn in the self-mailer that this guide is also part of the videotape follow-up kit sent to direct mail prospects and Web site visitors who want to know more.)
The 10-panel self-mailer folds up to a standard 6" x 9" form. Photos of resort patrons of all ages having fun in the pools, the childcare center and the activity courses are predominant in all but two of the self-mailer's panels.
Here's what works:
* The self-mailer offers something of interest for every family membera full layout of the childcare center is provided for parents who want to know that their youngest children will be safe and entertained; four children's play groups sell parents on activities geared toward particular age segments and reassure teens that they won't have to hang around with younger siblings.
* Photos of the four water parks provide a complete overview of where the family can have fun together and apart.
* An aerial shot of the resort provides the perfect backdrop for a laundry list of the resort's top features.
* An entire panel is devoted to package inclusions, summer vacation rates and a special offer for an AutumnFest deal.
* Prospects are encouraged to call a "vacation planner" rather than a salesperson. Or, those who are still gathering ideas can visit the Web site on their own.
What could work even better:
* No parent wants to bellyflop on selecting the right family vacation. Third-party endorsements from authorities help prospects believe your claims, such as those used by Smuggler's from Disney's FamilyFun magazine, The New York Times and Parents. We would make the positive reviews on the cover panel and the first inside panel even more prominent than they are now.