Mailbag Review: Power Freemiums, Great Involvement
Each month, Ethan Boldt and I sort through the direct mail that we receive here at the Who's Mailing What! Archive. Usually, it's 1,000-plus pieces to go through, often over coffee and hopefully an awake eye for the innovative and effective. Needless to say, we always run across efforts that stop our sort in its tracks. For the November batch, I was attracted to two premium mailings in particular, alongside two other efforts that used inventive involvement devices (see thumbnails of select mailings mentioned below).
The last few months of the year always see a big spike in nonprofit mail, even in the midst of a recession. So it was in November, as holiday and end-of-year appeals stuffed mailboxes with lots of freemiums we've seen a million times already, like calendars, address labels and stickers.
However, there were two big exceptions that stood out. The Smile Train (Archive code #613-691430-0911) reached out to its past donors by mailing a DVD of "Smile Pinki," the movie about the group that won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short for 2008 (see thumbnails). It's an easy way to reward contributors for giving the first time around, as well as remind them of the continuing mission of the organization.
St. Bonaventure Indian Mission & School (Archive code #606-717791-0911) mailed a pair of fleece gloves in a 5? x 10-1/4? envelope that almost begged to be opened. Strangely, the gloves aren't mentioned at all in the letter. Instead, the pitch is centered on the water needs of Navajo children. They did fit pretty well, though.
The importance of "fit" is paramount to John Christian (Archive code #161-717796-0911), jewelry designers and craftsmen. The three-panel, 5-3/4? x 8-1/2? self-mailer beautifully displays some of the company's necklaces and rings, and highlights the personalized aspect of each creation to commemorate big life events like anniversaries or births.
But to drive home the point that the company values the satisfaction of its customers, one panel serves as a ring sizer, with perfed-out circles for the prospect to punch out and determine the best measurement (see thumbnails). With that information in hand, so to speak, the customer can now order via the web, phone, fax or mail. In a section below the ordering instructions, the company also spells out a three-part "Guarantee of Satisfaction," including a limited-time refitting at no extra charge.
A mailing by Medicare provider Elderplan (Archive code #585-636798-0911) asks on the outer, "Are you used to living life your way?" Here again, it's all about customer service. To sell the prospect on switching to a new plan, the letter offers three choices to get more information: mail, phone or personal visit.
The most important component is a sticker sheet included in the #10 envelope (see thumbnail). There's a peel-off with a colorful icon for each reply option … but that's not all. There are also stickers for customers to attach to their calendars for "all the things you want and need to do," like "movies," "go to bank" and "wellness check-up." It's a simple and effective tool to generate a lead and ease concerns at the same time.