Editor's Notebook: The Teeny Trend
Unlike their general advertising colleagues, direct marketers do not need to chase after every blip on the trend horizon. But, they do need to pay attention to the overall shifts in consumer attitudes and business climates. If direct marketing at its finest is supposed to be the most relevant, targeted communications of all, then its creators must have their finger on the pulse of their audience.
About a month or so back, I read an article in the online version of USA TODAY about the beginnings of a trend to miniaturize products. In "Small Things About to Hit the Big Time," USA TODAY writer Bruce Horovitz points out that, whether driven by consumer desire or marketing maneuvers, a plethora of mini products are achieving huge success. A few of Horovitz's examples: Apple's iPod Mini and BMW's Mini Cooper.
On the surface, this trend is not seismic in nature by any stretch of the imagination. When you dig a little deeper, though, you can see that the roots of this trend come from more than a backlash against all things "supersized." It's about that buzzword being bandied about in direct marketing circles for the past few years: Choice.
Many people prefer the big version of products and are willing to pay the
bigger price tag. Those with a little less disposable income or with less need for the largest item can still be your customer if you give them a rangeeven a limited oneof product choices. Catalogers often call this strategy "good, better, best" merchandising.
And here's how this trend applies to direct mail. Whether it's coincidence or just the occasional need to test offers to goose results, I'm noticing more campaigns that give prospects a choice ... of premiums, subscription terms, response mechanisms, etc. For example, the conversion series for Investor's Business Daily emphasizes a two-year subscription term, but also serves up a one-year term and a mini-subscription of six months.
When it comes to formats, slim and trim still counts a number of proponents in its fan club, including voucher-wielding publishers and a handful of nonprofits who regularly mail mini invitation-size packages. But I have to admit that oversized formats are, on the whole, still large and in charge. In the March mail stream, at least four marketers were spotted with postcards, inline packages or magalogs that were larger than 9" x 12". (See "A Supersized New Control" on page 12 for details on this continuing trend.)
Considering how much the baby boomer market loves detailed product information to make purchasing decisions, it's not likely direct mail packages will get downsized any time soon.
P.S. I'd love to hear about your recent offer-testing experiences. Give me a call at (215) 238-5437, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.