Have Gun, Will Upgrade
The National Rifle Association (NRA), one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the United States, is well known for its active and vocal membership. The organization has been keeping those members engaged and involved in NRA activities through direct mail for generations, and its latest mailing offers faithful lifetime members the opportunity to upgrade even further (Archive code #601-172388-0611).
The patriotic mailing comes in a 5˝ x 11-1⁄2˝ envelope with a large photo of a bald eagle on the left side. Just below the eagle’s beak is the plastic addressee window, with another window to the right showing the member’s new, upgraded membership card. The eagle’s image, sometimes backed by an American flag, is at the top of every element of the mailing, including the membership card. Also in the envelope are the membership validation reply, a four-page membership benefits guide, a BRE and a six-page letter signed by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
The letter frames the issues facing NRA members and urges the recipient to commit to the cause by upgrading his or her Lifetime membership to an Endowment membership, and to respond right away in order to revalidate the $11,000 life insurance benefit included with Lifetime memberships. A six-page letter is long, but according to Gurney Sloan, vice president of special projects for PM Direct Marketing—the Fairfax, Va.-based consultancy that handles all the mailings for the NRA—the long letter tested better than shorter versions. Although he says he’s unsure of the reason, he suspects it’s because NRA lifetime members are an older demographic who don’t mind sitting down to read communications from their organization. Younger people, he says, generally like shorter letters.
The membership validation reply confirms the upgrade to Endowment level at the special rate of $175; normally, according to the reply, the Endowment upgrade is $1,000. Included in the upgrade are a series of premiums: Endowment member certificate and credentials, shooter’s jacket patch, lapel pin, car decals and an embroidered Endowment member jacket, available in sizes small to 3X. There’s also a check box to sign up family members for a life membership at a discounted rate. The benefits guide outlines the advantages of an NRA Lifetime membership, including the life insurance plan and special discounts at top retailers via the NRA’s Web Savings Program.