Publisher's "Hail Mary" Packaging Scores
In football, a "hail mary" is a quarterback pass lobbed in the direction of the end zone, in the hopes that someone from the offense will catch it and score a touchdown. It's generally considered a last-ditch effort.
For Guideposts, a publisher of spiritual books and a magazine bearing the company name, its "Hail Mary" package for Guideposts magazine is not a desperation mailing, but rather an amalgamation of every successful direct mail technique the publisher has ever used that was thrown into the marketplace to see if it would score.
And it does. According to Michele Ju, the magazine's new business marketing manager, Guideposts has been mailing this "Hail Mary" effort, as they call it, since 1996. The package was developed at a Guideposts Creative Conference by taking bits and pieces, such as design, copy, offer elements and address labels, and combining them.
Ju says, "The 'Hail Mary' that you see in the mail today is actually the second version. We call this the 'Hail Mary Correction.' At another Guideposts Creative Conference, the original 'Hail Mary' package was 'chewed up and spit out'meaning a group from our marketing department analyzed the package and made recommendations on how it could be improved, i.e, change some copy, update the design, redesign the address labels, etc. These recommendations were tested and became the new control package in 2001."
The package received by the Archive in September is a 6" x 9" envelope effort with an outer envelope that introduces the offer and the freemium immediately (202GUIDEP0901). A die-cut window allows the address labels on the order card to peek through, and the back panel of the envelope displays the serenity prayer afghan awarded in the Fast 100 contest. Perforation down the middle of the order card helps prospects separate the labels from the reply form. The fact that the reply form is also a sticker on a wax-coated backgrounder is a little strange, but it doesn't prevent the prospect from responding. The sticker tokens used to accept the two free issues, calendar premium and booklet premium for beating the response deadline are incorporated into the panel of address labels.
Address labels in a magazine acquisition effort are highly unusual. Ju explains that this freemium was "very successful for our contribution mailings to our housefile, so it was one of the elements added to the 'Hail Mary' package."
The rest of the mailing is comprised of: a four-color brochure, which features testimonials, sample magazine spreads and covers, plus highlights of the two premiums and the Fast 100 prize; a lift note, from Editor-in-Chief Edward Grinnan, that positions Guideposts as "more than a magazine"; a plain BRE; and a two-page letter that, in light of the tragic events of Sept. 11, offers a very timely message of community, comfort and spiritual guidance.
We asked Ju if this message could have related to the package's performance in the September mail?
"The September Guideposts direct mail campaign is on budget. Given the recent events, responding to a direct mail offer is fairly low in people's priorities. We believe that the editorial content of our magazine helped response during this difficult time. Everyone is looking for hope and inspiration, and that's just what Guideposts is all about," she explains.