Examined Efforts: Publishing
It seems there is a mailing format for every stage of a consumer magazine's evolution. Magazine launch packages need to establish the brand and build up circulation. That's why publishers tend to begin with magalogs or other hefty formats, packed with editorial, images, editor's notes and promises of content to come.
As circulation grows, publishers can switch to vouchers, slim-jims or pared-down letter packages. Stalwart brands like Vogue can afford to send acquisition mailings with very little editorial explanation-especially when the editor, like Vogue's Anna Wintour, is practically a household name.
Looking at the publishing mailstream, a 4-1/4? x 6? double-postcard effort for Vogue, which has been mailing since December 2005, exemplifies the pared down, cost-effective approach that known magazines pursue. Vogue dresses up its self-mailer with a gold-and-black invitation-style design, personalization, a red handbag premium and a shiny sticker involvement device (Archive Code #203-343250-0807).
Newer magazines, launched within the past few years, require more substance than a plain jane voucher or double postcard to win new subscribers. Ode magazine launched its English edition in 2004 and, even in the face of the spike in flats postage, it has been using an 8-1/2? x 11?, 16-page magalog format, to continually build an English audience. In November it mailed an acquisitions magalog that looks much like an actual issue of the magazine, and features a letter from the editor and free samples of stories found in Ode (Archive Code #202-699115-0811).
The offer is for a free preview issue of the magazine, a meditation CD premium, a low price of two dollars per issue and also a money-back guarantee on all remaining issues. Although it is a soft offer, there is a BRE envelope inserted into the fold to encourage cash with order. The magazine has cleverly used the memorable phrase "intelligent optimists" to brand its readership, and incites feelings of membership by inviting prospects to "join the intelligent optimists" throughout the copy. In a final optimistic nod, there is even a promise to plant a tree for every subscription received, with a goal of planting 100,000 trees within a year.