Mail Watch: Same as It Ever Was for Associations
While many associations might be nonprofits, they don't tend to be as flashy in the mail as their cause-driven brethren. Professional associations, of course, need to take a more serious tack, and cultural institutions either lack the direct mail budgets of their kissing cousins or mainly spend their promotion dollars on mass marketing campaigns.
As such, prospects and members are not likely to be enticed by freemiums, contests or innovative formats when it comes to association mail. But they will benefit from these organizations' smart use of data to speed response. A small percentage have leveraged personalization from a creative standpoint to gain attention, but most groups turn to this technique to prepopulate membership forms with whatever pertinent data they have on the prospect or member.
For example, The Newark Museum mailed a #10 envelope effort in April that is budget-friendly for this economy (Archive code #576-368394-0904). An 8-1/2" x 11" membership renewal form cuts costs with three-color printing but makes good use of laser printing to personalize with the member's name, current membership level, membership number, membership period and offer expiration date. Such a simple but effective form then allows the museum to use an inexpensive closed-face BRE; also, no need to rig the form's design to align the return address with the reply envelope's window placement.
Given associations' increasing return to control efforts—41.4 percent for the last 12 months compared to 27.6 percent for all sectors combined—we can expect to see more of this type of personalization in the future. In addition, this sector is holding steady at roughly 1 percent of the overall mail volume flowing into the Who's Mailing What! Archive, a pattern that has played out for the last three years.
One small note on the little premium use there is: Save for a recent AARP test effort that featured a pedometer, most gifts offered are tightly related to the association's focus (e.g., logo stadium blank for an alumni group, art poster for a museum, etc.).