Magalogs - Send the Sizzle or the Steak (1,821 words)
1. Card Sets
International Masters Publishers (IMP) sells sets of colorful 4˝ square cards—recipes, animals, gardening information—that the customer (hopefully) will start collecting. The mailing package is always the product—a set of actual cards wrapped in poly or foil with all kinds of bells, whistles and scratch-offs. Promotional material—the letter, order form, brochure, etc.—is sandwiched in between the cards. This means no matter which way you open the package, colorful cards will come tumbling out onto the table or into your lap. Respond to the offer and you will receive a plastic box to hold the cards and sets of cards sent on a till-forbid basis (IMP will keep sending you cards until you forbid them to send any more).
A variation: Heritage House craft and hobby programs where the mailings contain three-hole-punched 81⁄2˝ x 11˝ cards or pages to be collected in a big binder sent to you free when you order the program. Western Publishing had a program for years on crocheting and Newbridge had a series of these on various subjects.
In these cases, the marketers are "sending the steak" rather than selling the sizzle.
Ever since I can remember, a debate has raged in the newsletter promotion world: Do you send an actual newsletter (the steak) or do you promise salvation (the sizzle)?
Advantages of sending an actual newsletter:
a) While the cost of the mailing may be higher, the prospect sees the product; there are no surprises.
b) Direct mail is interruptive. When you send a sample, up-front response to the offer may be lower, because the prospect starts reading the publication which interrupts the selling process—in effect, an interruption of the interruption. However, if the prospect likes what's in the sample, you may well get a committed subscriber, one who likes the product and will renew.