Practicing a Law of Physics
Sir Isaac Newton's third law of physics: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. But does it work when applied to direct mail campaigns? In the case of the generous 75-label premium package (604EAPAVE0503A) with a follow-up reminder sent by the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA), in Wilton, NH, the answer would be a resounding "Yes."
"Mailing more in a package usually translates to more responses," says John Hamre, group directorwho notes that though this package looks costly, it is an effort that the EPVA does not consider an expensive investment since, in the long run, it offers very high value.
Hamre adds that this is so even with the campaign's mere $3 askan amount he reports is standard for EPVA's acquisition control package, which has been sent out for more than eight years now. "This is what we call a premium mailer. We find that a greater amount of people respond to a lower ask when coupled with more premiums," he explains. "It works much better than asking for large gifts right up front."
The basic philosophy driving this effort is that once a potential donor is acquired, the EPVA then can mail subsequent campaigns that eventually will edge the donor up to more substantial amounts beginning around $15.
The campaign includes an initial mailing consisting of a larger-than-average 5-1/4" x 9-1/4" envelope with two windowsone of which is oval shaped and reveals the enclosed decorative labelsa donation request form, 75 free personalized address labels, an honor-our-Veterans-on-Memorial Day insert, a CRE and a letter with a postscript emphasizing to readers that 100 percent of all donations go to the cause, with no commissions to outside fund-raisers.
Within a few weeks, a follow-up mailing (604EAPAVE0503B) is sent as a reminder, including an honor-a-family member-or-friend donation card, a $3-ask donation form, an insert that relays a heartwarming story of a paralyzed veteran winning an athletic competition, another CRE and a letter that reiterates the message of giving no commissions to outside fund-raisers.
"We've always noted in our mailings, whether as a postscript or in our main copy, that all donations go strictly to
veterans," says Hamre. "The message may seem more obvious now because of recent news surrounding this issue, but we've always felt it was important to inform readers that their donations are not supporting fund-raising efforts."
The recent court case Illinois vs. Telemarketing Associates brought public attention to how much some charities pay professional agencies to conduct fund-raising campaigns on their behalf.
As to how much lift the reminder package provides and how long it takes EPVA to get a strong return on investment with this campaign, Hamre could not say. In this instance, it's too soon to tell. He did say, however, that this type of campaign is mailed three times a year to a specific list that tends to result in significant response rates. "This effort is generally mailed once before the holidays at the end of the year, again sometime in January and for a third time in the spring before Memorial Day," says Hamre.
Sharon R. Cole