Magalogs - Send the Sizzle or the Steak (1,821 words)
Disadvantages of sending an actual newsletter:
a) The interruption of the interruption (described above).
b) It goes without saying that some issues of magazines and newsletters are better than others—more relevant, more powerful. Send a "live" sample—the current issue—and it may not contain the very best editorial material and you are asking the prospect to judge your work on a weak issue.
c) This is key: Test, say, the September issue in late August and you have to wait until late September to early October to read the early results and decide whether or not to roll out. Even if you can turn around on a dime, the roll-out in late October will include the November issue. The November issue, however, is not the same as the September issue. Send out something different on a roll-out from a test, and the test is no longer valid.
The Sample or Specimen Issue
The solution to this problem is to create a special issue using the strongest "evergreen" material from past issues. Mail this with a letter promising more of the same and you should have an acquisition effort worth testing—a combination of sizzle and steak.
What's more, since this specimen issue will not vary from mailing to mailing, you can rely on test results (assuming, of course, the issue doesn't tell you how rich you will get in the stock market, only to have the stock market tank the day after you mail).
The Rukeyser Variation
What triggered this piece was a long-term control for Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street—the cover of which you see on page 33—which harks back to the old magalogs of the 1980s. This 16-page, 8 1⁄2˝ x 11˝ booklet, written by in-house copywriter Dan Moser, is printed in three colors on offset paper with no charts, graphs or illustrations except for two photos of Rukeyser and a design element that looks like a Rolodex card.