Writing a Christmas Package in July
At press time, America just experienced the transfer of power as President Barack Obama was sworn in. Yet back in July, when The Nation, a weekly liberal news magazine, dropped effort one of its eight-part holiday gift subscription series, it had no way of knowing which candidate would come out on top. “We actually wrote this back in June and July … so we were sort of dancing around the issue that we didn’t know who’s going to win the election,” says Art Stupar, vice president of circulation for The Nation.
All eight of the packages, sent from July to December, have a holiday look and feel to them. “We design the whole series in the summer and mail the first effort in the last week of July, if you can believe it, and of course, the first effort gets the best response as with most renewals. So here you have people ordering gift subscriptions at the end of July,” reveals Stupar.
Because it delivers high response, high pay and high revenue, Stupar says the holiday gift series is an important part of The Nation’s marketing strategy. The first mailing drops to an audience of more than 11,000 previous donors and garners about a 22 percent response rate; the eighth effort mails to about half the number of donors and gets between a 5 percent and 7 percent response rate. Year over year, the gift renewal rate is 60 percent, and the series generates about 17,000 subscriptions with a revenue of more than $340,000.
Package eight, dropped in late November and early December, just in time for the holiday rush, arrives in a 4? x 7-1/2? outer with the copy, “Final Notice,” and “Do you have a better gift in mind than The Nation?” Inside is a short, one-page letter, lift note from the editor and publisher, reply form prepopulated with any previous gift subscription information, buckslip explaining the adopt-a-library program, and a BRE (Archive code #710-171640-0812).