Greeting Cards Hit Their Stride
The focus direct marketers have placed on customer relationship marketing makes an impact on their direct mail efforts. One complementary trend that has been building is that of greeting cards, used either as part of the overall direct mail effort or as the only element in the package.
Quality Paperback Book Club and Columbia House were among the first marketers to incorporate greeting cards of their own design into mailings that targeted lapsed customers. Recently we've seen First Union (543FIRUNI0800) and Hallmark (910HALLMA1000) couple Hallmark Business Expressions cards with a single insert to draw attention to special promotions.
The big winner from last December's mail drops, though, is the Wildlife Conservation Society, which crafted a fund-raising effort to look like a holiday card (610WILCOS1200). Sandwiched in with the rest of the holiday mail one of our correspondent's received, it earned more than a passing glance from her and a donation to boot.
According to Dina Mele, assistant director of membership at the Bronx, NY-based wildlife preservation nonprofit, the holiday card effort is in its third year and performs better than any of the other campaigns mailed during the year.
The Society sends the holiday card mailing to its best donors in two groups; the upper tier receives the card in a hand-addressed envelope bearing a live First-Class stamp, while the next tier receives the card in an envelope with the name and address lasered in a script-like font and a live bulk-rate stamp.
The copy was produced in-house, with Mele doing most of the writing herself. Mele explains that the Society's goal isn't to trick donors, but to use a less promotional look at a busy time of year when recipients might be likely to set aside the mailing.
The 6" x 9" envelope effort is printed on cream-colored, recycled paper. The front of the outer envelope is bare except for the prospect's name and address, the live stamp and the word "nonprofit" printed in bold, black type below the stamp; the back of the outer envelope features only the Wildlife Conservation Society address.
Actually, Mele told us, the word "nonprofit" wasn't supposed to be on this mailing; the lettershop goofed. Mele was worried the snafu would hurt response, but she has not seen a drop in the projected rates.
Inside the envelope, the 51/2" x 81/2" greeting card features a photo of a majestic tiger with the Society logo printed underneath. Inside, where the greeting would normally appear, are six paragraphs that outline the story of a Siberian tiger named Natasha, who is presumed by the Society to have been a victim of poachers. The postscript, which tells of the Society's eventual discovery of Natasha's two cubs, is powerful by introducing hope to a disheartening story, giving donors a reason to send a check to safeguard the species' future.
An interesting element is a paragraph printed in a blue font that mimics handwriting. The paragraph is signed by Maurice Hornocker, a senior scientist with the Society and who also founded the Hornocker Wildlife Institute that became part of the Society in October 2000. This handwritten copy asks for a $35 donation and thanks donors for their support; it also fits the look of a signed holiday card.
While the card-style effort offers many advantages, Mele does admit that the Society struggles every year with the amount of text that will fit the format. "We have to cut copy drastically," she says.
But Mele explains that she's not overly bothered by the copy-length limitations of the card-style format, because she thinks people don't have the time to read a four-page letter around the holidays anyway. A simple donation card and business reply envelope round out the package.