First Up: The New Freemiums
Free gifts remain an effective strategy for winning direct mail customers and prospects. Despite shape-based postal requirements, mailers continue to send both lumpy and flat freemiums along with their appeals, especially in the publications and nonprofit sectors. The highlighted freemium mailers below, collected from the Who's Mailing What! Archive, all use the word "Free" on the outer envelope (one mailing did so five times!) to drive readers inside.
Handy How-to Guides
San Francisco-based Yoga Journal mailed its January 2008 effort in a four-color #10 outer, with a yogi striking a pose and the copy, "FREE INSIDE, TWO FREE GIFTS and a FREE ISSUE of Yoga Journal (plus a FREE 'Yoga Remedies Guide' too)!" Using the word "free" four times on the front of the envelope alone, the back of the outer promises, "Instant Calm-Instantly FREE when you open this envelope!" Inside is a small four-color brochure showing an easy-to-read illustration and description for eight yoga poses for headache relief and eight poses for stress relief. This paper freebie also saves postal costs because it does not push the package into the next weight class and meets flat, shape-based requirements.
Another example is the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization Food & Water Watch that mailed a kraft 6" x 9" outer in March, with the copy, "Free FOOD SAFETY ACTION KIT Enclosed." The mailer delivers a plethora of information on food safety along with a "Smart Seafood Guide 2008" on heavy card stock that could easily fit into the prospect's wallet. Simple color-coded categories like "Best Choices," "Good Alternatives" and "Avoid" help make this a great pocket reference tool. Both the Yoga Journal and Food & Water Watch include their URLs on the guides-in case prospects want to drill deeper on information from the publication or organization.
A Weighty Token
In March, the Sacred Heart Center, a Wilmette, Ill.-based organization working to protecting Native American women and children against abuse, sent out a lumpy, heavy #10 acquisition package. A four-color image of a dreamcatcher and an early Native American settlement adorn the front outer, along with the simple copy, "Free Gift Enclosed," to get prospects inside. To encourage a donation, the package includes a brown wooden-beaded bracelet with dreamcatcher images on each bead. This heavy, high-quality gift is adhered to a placard which explains that dreamcatchers are used to protect sleeping children from nightmares. The explanation helps the prospect connect the free bracelet to the Sacred Heart Center's mission in safeguarding women and children.
A Useful Tie-In
Helen Keller International, a New York-based organization dedicated to saving the sight of vulnerable and disadvantaged people internationally, features two gifts in its December 2007 mailing. The #10 outer features the organization's name and logo and the copy, "Your free Personalized Labels and Wallet Magnifier are enclosed."
The magnifier, encased in a protective sleeve, shows through a large front window on the outer envelope, and the personalized labels are perfed to the reply form inside. Donors who have imperfect eyesight will find this magnifier useful in reading small print on menus and on the go. The organization makes a direct connection between its mission and free magnifier, with the copy, "May this gift remind you of the spirit of Helen Keller, and the important work that we do in her name."