Direct Mail Spotlight: Real Simple
Have you ever ordered something and waited weeks until the package arrived, only to be wholly disappointed by a lesser item? A cardinal rule in the direct mail industry is to make a clear description of a product or service in a mailing so that, upon delivery, there are no such letdowns.
In the publications sector, converting acquisitions to sales means evoking enough editorial content in the direct mail piece for a prospect to be pleased when the first issue arrives. In particular, slim-jim magalog formats combat customer dissatisfaction with ample real estate to make a strong, accurate editorial sell. The slim-jim also mails at a letter rate—giving it an advantage over the flat packages that were favored prior to shape-based pricing.
Real Simple, a women’s lifestyle magazine, established its 6˝ x 10-1⁄2˝ slim-jim magalog as a control in January of 2007. “We were trying to bring our brand to life in our direct mail, so there should be no surprise between what they see in the direct mail piece and what they end up getting when their first issue arrives,” explains Michelle Garcia, new business marketing director for Real Simple (Archive code #202-637190-0802).
Real Simple first tested the package in late 2005; however, it only elevated the magalog to a control when the piece began to outperform a larger polybag that had been mailing since 2003. “It was actually a combination of both response and cost savings—it lifted net response, and it also reduced our costs. So it worked both levers,” adds Garcia.
The new control features 31 pages, a front cover image taken directly from an issue of the magazine and a back cover with the prospect’s address, a sticker involvement device, a thumbnail image of a past issue and the brand promise, “Presenting the magazine that makes life easier.”
Real Simple delivers on its brand promise within the mail piece by sharing time-saving tips, recipes and ideas for self-improvement. “[The package] was a response to figuring out ways that we could still showcase our brand, communicate our brand promise of simplifying your life and highlight our photography, but in a different format that was slightly more cost-effective,” asserts Garcia.
The first five pages of the package feature a letter from the managing editor describing Real Simple’s editorial benefits with call-outs such as, “Spend less time in the kitchen” and “Carve out moments for yourself.” Also mentioned in the letter are the offer for two free issues with no payment obligation, the enclosed “FREE Speed Cleaning Guide” and a 40-page “Getting Organized Guide” premium.
Copy and images are pulled directly from the pages of the magazine and reformatted to fit the mailing. Real Simple’s editorial is a product of intense research to achieve maximum resonance with the target audience. “We have an in-house group that literally does issue-reading studies,” Garcia says.
This research carries over into the mailing’s content; for example, the Speed Cleaning Guide was selected as a freemium because the original speed cleaning story scored really well in a research environment. “It was one of our best-performing articles. We think it adds value to the package because it’s an instant gift that’s applicable to women,” Garcia comments.
Future versions of this mailing may include content, list and format tests. “We have a family issue that’s a special issue, and it’s something that we’ve toyed with promoting on the outer while segmenting to lists with women who’d make sense. We’re always looking to reduce the cost of our mail packages through new formats,” Garcia says. One thing is certain—Real Simple will continue to infuse its direct mail with precise, targeted editorial. “We’re constantly doing research on what articles are most interesting and what content really is the most appealing within the magazine,” Garcia concludes.