Famous Last Words: Is Grossman’s Math Still Alive?
For years, the coin of the realm for magazine circulation efforts was the double postcard.
The advantages of the double postcard over a full-dress package:
• It mailed at a special low First Class rate, because if the bottom half was used, postage would be collected for mail going both directions.
• It’s quick and cheap to produce and stockpile.
• It’s easy to personalize and takes color well.
• Upfront response usually beats full-dress packages.
• Bill-me is the only payment option so pay-up is lousy.
• Can only be used for a well-known or self-descriptive product (e.g., TIME, Philadelphia magazine) going to an obvious universe.
This past June, I delivered a keynote address at the New England Direct Marketing Association meeting, where I ran into a circulation director I know. She was working for a different publication than when we first met.
“What’s your current control?” I asked.
“I’m embarrassed to say it’s a professional discount voucher. It beat out a package by [a well-known writer],” she replied.
The Ubiquitous Voucher
Vouchers have replaced double postcards as the preferred format for circulation efforts.
As near as I can figure out, the voucher mailings first became popular in the late 1980s. The first grand controls (in the mail for three consecutive years) were Pierre Volmene’s “FREE GIFT/SAVINGS VOUCHER” for Newsweek; an in-house effort for Outside; and Bill Christensen’s “QUALIFICATION NOTICE/PRIVATE OFFER” for Advertising Age and Fortune.
They mailed in an envelope and had the advantage of including BREs so subscribers could enclose payment. In addition, a short letter or premium slip could be added at little cost.
But, like the double postcard, no benefit-oriented, emotional letter is included. Rather it’s a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am effort with the ultimate feature being substantial savings under the regular subscription rate and obscene savings under newsstand.