Getting in on the Action
Sometimes a direct mail piece is just thatdirect. For such mailings, the saying "what you see is what you get" tends not only to ring true, but also work very well to draw in customers.
For the past several years the Association for Research & Enlightenment Inc. (A.R.E.) has been one such mailer. Its control has been a four-page, 81/2" x 11" billboard mailing that is folded in half. The effort's copy is laid out in the style of a newsletter, which is one of the benefits of an A.R.E. membership. In fact, it uses the same format for each of its three newsletters: Ancient Mysteries, True Health and Personal Spirituality. And although the association has other, more traditional recruitment pieces with a four-page letter, buckslip, brochure and BRE, the billboard formats "really work," says A.R.E.'s Marketing Director Anne Hunt. "They've become our bread and butter and haven't needed fixing, yet."
Affixed to the top portion of the mailing is a clear plastic pouch containing the membership offer card and return envelope with the prospect's name and address visible. Holding the piece securely together is a red, circular tab with "OPEN HERE" in white, enticing the prospect to unfold the piece, where he will find clear, easy access to the membership offer inside the pouch. "I think it's different, so it catches the eye," says Hunt. "It's interactive, and it's very colorful." A.R.E.'s colorful mailings, such as the one for Ancient Mysteries that appeared in the Who's Mailing What! Archive in March (Archive code #571-176720-0503), are reader friendly, instantly engaging the prospect with text and imagery. This effort can't be mistaken for yet another bill.
The mailing's three columns of copy feature the kinds of topics members can
expect to see in the 10 issues they will receive during the year, should they sign up. "We're sort of appealing to people with the membership benefit itself," says Hunt. "You send in and join, and immediately start to get things in the mail that are as stimulating as what we use to convince you to join the
organization in the first place." Showing prospects what they can expect also keeps the renewal rates high, says Hunt, with no need for aggressive, deep discounts to entice people to become members. The regular price of a membership is $48, while this mailing features a $44 offer.
Not only is the format effective, it's also economical. Hunt came up with the idea knowing her mail house was already producing a one-page version of this type of format. "We actually started with that, but I felt that there wasn't enough space for copy," she explains. "I wanted to enlarge it to give it the look and feel of a four-page, bifold newsletter." A.R.E. keeps an inventory of the pieces, mailing them out on a monthly basis, with any one list being mailed to quarterly on average. "All of the components are inexpensive, so you can print up a fair quantity and then mail small quantities over and over to reactivate or recruit members," describes Hunt. The biggest expense, she says, is the postage.