Envelope Strategy In-line for Kiplinger's
At first glance, you might not have guessed that the understated outer envelope of Kiplinger's Personal Finance's long-term control is, in fact, the key to the effort's success. The white, in-line produced, #10 envelope, characterized by a varnished, green, faux label, appears simple, but a few subtle elements on the envelope have resulted in a package that consistently speaks well to its target audience and effectively draws them inside to the offer (Archive Code #205-174257-0508).
According to Caroline Zimmermann, president of The Zimmermann Agency, the Brookville, N.Y.-based agency responsible for the package's design, "What I consider [integral] to this control's success is what I consider the most successful and most important element of any direct mail packageand that's the envelope."
Among the more costly elements Zimmermann says have contributed to the "blockbuster" envelope are the closed-face envelope, which she feels many mailers are reluctant to invest in, and the varnished faux label, which costs more because it often is charged as an additional color.
Another interesting aspect of the outer envelope is the indicia, which appears in the label'snot the envelope'supper right-hand corner. "I like to do things with my envelopes that are, what I call, 'mildly disturbing,'" says Zimmermann of the indicia's placement. "You look at it, and you may not consciously realize that something is a little askew, but it makes you take another look at the envelope, and that's what I want."
Zimmermann also points to the "DO NOT BEND" copy on the outer envelope, which is deliberately used to draw readers into the package. By Postal Service regulations, the copy can only be used if there is something inside that shouldn't be bent, so the decision was made a few years ago to include a freemium insert with tips from the magazine. "We've had a lot of success with that, as other marketers have. ... 'DO NOT BEND' implies that there is something in there you should know about," notes Zimmermann.
The control's glossy freemium insert, "12 Grade-A Ways to Build a Nest Egg for Retirement," reflects the readership's interest in retirement, and although other inserts have been tested, including, "10 Steps to Trim Your Taxes" and, "How to Get the Right Coverage at the Right Price," nothing has beat the retirement-focused control. "Not only does [the freemium] ... force open the outer envelope, but it also supports the magazine in an editorial environment. So instead of being a promotional folder or a brochure or buckslip, it's an educational piece of value, and that's another psychological aspect to the package that I think is very important," adds Zimmermann.
The other component of this control is a voucher, which like the outer envelope and unlike the freemium is produced in-line. Typically, that voucher includes an offer for a one-year subscription for $10; the effort the Archive received in August features a test price of $7.95 and copy that asserts, "THIS OFFER WILL NOT BE REPEATED."
According to the magazine's circulation director Carol Lapere, this test price was sent to older expires on the magazine's filesthose who lapsed from 1998 through 2001and was built to match the offers of its competitors, Money and Smart Money. This is the only element differentiating the test from the control.
While this particular price structure will not be remailed, Lapere notes the magazine will continue to test against its control until something else beats
it. And with 26 test panels currently testing against various elements of the control (five of which are completely new packages), it's clear that Kiplinger's values testing.