Direct Mail Spotlight: Save the Children
When someone says, “Less is more,” no matter what the context is, it usually implies a negative reaction. What is the speaker really trying to say?
Less is more can be a euphemism for many statements, such as “Black is slimming, so take off that plaid shirt,” or “Since we can’t afford a flat screen, let’s save money and go with a tube television.”
The same meaning rings true for direct mail designers. If a direct mailer qualifies a creative effort with the phrase “less is more,” are they describing a winning mailing or a cost-cutting bore? In the case of Save the Children’s latest triple postcard effort, the maxim is positive and effective.
Save the Children’s Charitable Gift Annuity Mailing may lack in bells and whistles but remains a strong example of a self-mailer that works. Sent to 40,000 previous and prospective donors in October, it is already winning against the charity’s fatiguing #10 package of a letter, brochure and response form. “We started to get to the point where the last two times we did a traditional package, we really didn’t have much of a response at all,” says Cyndee DiLeo, associate director of planned giving with the organization’s Westport, Conn.–based office.
Save the Children worked with an outside designer to create the standard triple postcard. The outer has teaser copy and a photograph of a smiling child, but does not give away the nature of the contents inside. The interior is a long, vertical layout with a perforated, postage-paid response card at the bottom (Archive Code #613-172763-0711).
Inside the mailer, a large photograph of a mother and child helps convey the simple message, “A Charitable Gift Annuity will increase your income today and help children tomorrow.” A second photograph on the reply card features a smiling child and a thank you. In addition to the compelling photography, there is a “How It Works” flow chart in the middle of the layout, which explains where the donor’s gift goes and how this benefits all parties.
The purpose of the self-mailer is to introduce the annuity program to previous donors and prospects over the age of 60. It is the first touchpoint in the program, and the call-to-action warrants a request for more information. For DiLeo, the triple postcard format seems to fit well with this effort. “It provides an easy response vehicle, and it also kind of forced us to keep the message very brief,” she says. After the U.S. Postal Service May 2007 rate increase, the format helped curb added postage costs, too. With the money saved in postage, DiLeo says the organization has been able to cast a wider net and target more of its database.
As a follow-up to this mailing, Save the Children sends responders a packet with a personalized illustration, an application, a disclosure statement and a copy of the annual report. Then it calls the prospect to confirm receipt of the materials and answer any questions. So far, the effort is bringing in a good response. “When you’re working up from practically zero, it seems like a terrific rate that we’re getting now,” says DiLeo, who notes that there also has been a jump in online traffic and telephone response.
DiLeo plans to keep future versions of this mailing in the same format. By repeating the mailing, she hopes the prospect will be engaged due to its familiarity. “We’re very strong right now on branding, so the colors, the logo, the positioning, the format, all of that will just make it recognizable,” she asserts. Repeated efforts may establish this piece as a new control. For now, Save the Children has established a new rule that self-mailers can become winners and “less is more” can be a direct mail compliment.