Four Reasons to Use Buckslips
Buckslips got their name because, when they first appeared in the mail package, they were roughly the size of a dollar bill. Now they’re often slightly larger, but more important than their physical dimensions, they, like dollar bills, usually manage to ensnare the prospect’s attention.
Of course, that is a role that can’t be underestimated for direct mailers faced with prospects’ continually shrinking attention spans and the shrinking size of the mail package. “Buckslips are vital to the package. Readers want their information FAST. Buckslips fill the bill,” asserts Ruth Sheldon, a New York City–based copywriter and president of Ruth K. Sheldon & Associates.
A copywriter for many publishing companies, Elaine Tyson, president of Tyson Associates in Brookfield, Conn., agrees. “Traditional direct mail is still the gold standard in selling direct-to-publisher subscriptions for most magazines, and buckslips play a role in developing strong packages—assuming there is a real reason to use one,” she says.
Here are four reasons to put that buckslip on the stage:
1. They soften the loss of larger packages
Recent postal rate changes have endangered the larger package, including the longer letter, and make it difficult for mailers to give the full pitch to the prospect. Fortunately, Buck Rogers, err, buckslips to the rescue! “The four-page letter seems to be shrinking, and buckslips are taking up the slack,” states Sheldon, who says buckslips always have helped to highlight key information that may or may not be elsewhere in the package.
Indeed, “slack” is very noticeable in the voucher packages so popular with publications, to the point where the letter, and often general information (besides pricing), is missing entirely. Again, buckslips can fill that void. “For magazine promotions, [buckslips] are most often used to hype the offer or a specific benefit, to simulate last-minute news, sometimes to show the magazine if no brochure is enclosed, to highlight a premium or to push people to a Web site,” illustrates Tyson, who says many circulation marketers nonetheless still consider the voucher format unfriendly to the traditional buckslip.
2. Duh! They increase response!
It’s a mystery why magazine publishers, for example, would leave out this vital component. Yet Tyson noticed lately that buckslip usage has declined somewhat in publisher’s direct mail packages. “I suspect it’s because marketers mistakenly think they’re saving money by cutting down the number of package components. They forget that extra enclosures add interest and involvement to packages—both of which increase response,” she explains.
3. They make a strong case, fast
“When the prospect is in a hurry to get to the point, buckslips do the trick,” claims Sheldon, who recognizes that buckslips logically have replaced the lift note in many mailings. Instead of lifting the fold of a lift note to see inside, the buckslip zeros in on vital information immediately.
To get that information to stand out even more, Sheldon says colored stock increasingly is being used. However, the buckslip, unlike the outer envelope on occasion, remains a dignified component. “There’s no element of pleading in buckslips. It states the point. Case closed,” describes Sheldon.
While not always necessary to a package, Tyson agrees that a buckslip is an important tool when you simply need to call special attention to something you don’t want prospects to overlook.
4. For buckslips, the future is bright
While the content and design of buckslips will change in the future, they appear to be a permanent fixture in today’s mail piece. “They’re here to stay. With the patience of readers getting thinner, I think more information will morph into buckslips, which I see as the equivalent of sound bites on paper,” anticipates Sheldon.
They just make sense in the package, from almost any marketing perspective, including cost, creative and sales. “Buckslips are an important, low-cost component that is very versatile. As such, I predict savvy direct marketers and creative people will continue to find uses for them and, perhaps, discover new ways to use them to increase sales,” concludes Tyson.