Nat'l Geographic - Control for a Decade (1,169 words)
by Janet Follmeyer
When looking at a long-term control, the million-dollar question that springs to mind is, "What makes this particular mailing so successful?" For the National Geographic Society's 10-year control for its magazine, National Geographic, the answer is simple: testing and adapting.
Liz Safford, the magazine's circulation director, stresses the key role that testing has played in the package's success.
"I started working for the Society when the package rolled out, so I have worked with all the changes that enabled this package to be so successful. It hasn't been static; it has evolved. We have tested the package, which makes it vibrant," she says.
The strategy for the package, according to Safford, is to promote the premium in another low-key way—and still focus on the product. Closer examination of the mailing's elements show why the National Geographic Society has had a difficult time topping this carefully crafted effort.
Become a Member
A factor that contributes strongly to the success of this control is the positioning of the offer as an invitation to join the Society, rather than as a subscription deal.
By selling the prospect on a membership with the magazine subscription as a benefit, the Society can cultivate an emotional appeal to motivate prospects to respond.
The four-page letter sells the concept with copy designed to flatter prospects. For example, the letter begins by addressing prospects as "select candidates" who have been isolated for membership.
As the subscription price has been a key issue for the National Geographic Society, the letter is also used to overcome the perception of expense.
A series of quotes in the eyebrow of the letter read:
We recently received a letter from a new member who wrote, "I wanted to subscribe long ago but I thought it would be too expensive … Had I only known …"