Gooseberry Patch Offers a Sneak Peek
Giving prospects a sneak peek at its product is a strategy that's worked well for Gooseberry Patch, a division of Leisure Arts, and its partner company, Oxmoor House, the publisher and direct marketer of Gooseberry Patch craft books.
Oxmoor has used a 5" x 7-1/2" bookalog mailing to promote the annual Gooseberry Patch Christmas book since 2001. This control, in effect, is a pocket-sized sampling of the decorating tips, products and recipes customers can expect to find in the pages of the Christmas book. The 36-page booklet intersperses bright, colorful images of baked goods and crafts projects with illustrations of Country Friends from Gooseberry Patchthe series' three signature illustrated characters (Archive code #101-172160-0506). The mailing's standard offer also is tied to the concept of a sneak peek: a free, 30-day preview of the Gooseberry Patch Christmas book, which then may be purchased at a 50 percent savings off the retail price. The mailing also promotes this year's free gift: a tote bag.
When the series initially launched, Oxmoor promoted it with a 6" x 11-1/2" envelope package that consisted of a sales letter, brochure and a freemium insert of gift tags, explains Julie Doll, senior promotion manager for Oxmoor House. However, taking its cue from the Gooseberry Patch catalog, which was a smaller format, as well as competitors' mailings, Oxmoor tested the pocket-sized bookalog in September 2001, with great results. "It performed very well and has continued to do so," says Doll. With each mailing since, Doll adds, Oxmoor has tested different formats against the control, including magalogs, a jumbo polybag package and other envelope packages similar to the one used for the launch. So far, she says, "We just cannot beat it."
The piece is mailed twice yearly, usually in early summer and again around September. The publisher targets inside files of Christmas book and cookbook buyers and also prospects to outside lists of cooking, general craft and Christmas craft-book buyers. "We get good response early in the year because our core audience are the kind of people who look at Christmas not as a chore but as a joy," Doll says. "They're looking forward to Christmas and can't wait to get started planning."
The publisher then follows this mailing with its standard 6" x 11-1/2" large-format envelope packages promoting other Gooseberry Patch products, such as its Christmas cookbook.
Doll believes the look and language of the piece has much to do with its success. "This format somewhat tells a story. It's like reading through a book," says Doll. "The more pages you turn, the more you want to get to the end, and want more." She adds, "It's also a good representation of the actual book itself."
Doll suggests subtle changes to the creative have kept the mailing fresh and response high. "We update it with each book," she describes. "Our book-five mailing did well, and when we updated it for book six and made some subtle tweaks insidelittle things to freshen it up a bitthe response went through the roof," she says.
Tweaks to this year's mailing promoting book seven do more to focus attention on the free gift by scattering star-shaped bursts mentioning the tote bag throughout the mailing. Another subtle change has been increased emphasis on the yearly nature of the Christmas book. This year's copy reads, "Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 2005," instead of the volume number, which would be "Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 7."