Premium Watch: Publications Use Relevant Gifts
It's been a rough year for publications, including magazines and newsletters. With some closing their doors, others reducing frequency, and others simply slashing staff but trying to maintain the same output (and quality), you'd expect to see less expensive efforts in the mail and fewer premiums in those mailings.
You'd be half-correct. While more vouchers are being used today in order to save on cost, premium usage remains almost as high as it was over the past two years, hovering around 42 percent of publications' efforts, according to our Who's Mailing What! Archive. This month, you'll see that most publications use low-key but highly relevant premiums to boost renewals and acquisitions.
Garden Design magazine takes the two-window approach with a #10 outer for its renewal effort but uses an unusually small top window to showcase its name. No mention of the premium is made until you get inside, where the bamboo wind chime is mentioned on the reply form, in the letter and on a buckslip devoted to said premium, including a picture. We're used to seeing premiums that are barely related to the magazine, but the wind chime obviously works well with the readership. The buckslip copy says, "You will delight at the soothing melody in your garden as the gentle breezes stir the beautifully tuned aluminum tubes" (Archive code #710-641844-0905).
Another renewal effort comes from New York magazine, which calls attention to its 4-1/4" x 7-3/4" outer with a "Service Alert" yellow sticker. Like the Garden Design hybrid voucher package, this one, too, mentions the premium in three spaces, including getting the expanded treatment on the buckslip. The letter says "You get 2 FREE GUIDES with your payment — valuable guides created by our editors at New York," while the buckslip calls them "essential" guides and shows pictures of the covers of both guides. One is called "Where to Eat 2009" and the other "Best Cheap Eats"; both are standard metropolitan magazine cover stories that are annual big draws among readers, thus they may work well as premiums (Archive code #710-172010-0905).
Harvard Business Review has added a teaser in a black circle on its acquisition effort, a 4" x 9-1/4" envelope. It reads, "Practical Advice for Turbulent Times," and demonstrates that HBR is attempting to show prospects that its current editorial will help readers get through this rough patch. Accordingly, that teaser relates to the premium inside, which is shown on the side of the voucher page and mentioned in the "Executive Benefits Summary": "LEADERSHIP INSIGHTS: 15 Unique Perspectives on Effective Leadership-130 pages of thought-provoking and actionable articles," followed by the crucial words, "FREE with your paid subscription." The premium also gets a two-sided buckslip that shows its cover as well as all the article titles and authors in the "article collection," such as "The Job No CEO Should Delegate." With such a voluminous collection, HBR is living up to its "Practical Advice" promise and staying relevant with potential readers (Archive code #205-175475-0905).
Finally, while most magazine premiums don't seem to make it onto the envelope, Morningstar FundInvestor puts its on the back of its #10. In big red type, it says, "Now Available!" and then describes the gift: "Year-end Analyst Reports: on the same 500 funds covered in the Funds 500 annual guide. A $39.95 value-Free." Of course, if it warrants attention on the outer, you'd think it also would get mentioned in the letter. Nope. Rather, it, along with four "bonus reports," is listed on the subscription benefits page. Those four reports also are listed on the back of that voucher page, again touting the "$40 value" along with long descriptions of each of the reports, such as "Managers Who Eat Their Own Cooking: Do you want to invest with a manager who runs a fund but invests elsewhere? We like managers who have their own money on the line" (Archive code #270-704780-0905B).
In a fraught economy and with an audience of potential investors, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better way for Morningstar FundInvestor to position its premiums, as both comprise an $80 value and are full of useful investment advice that prospects want now.