Publishing mail is a consistently strong player in the Who’s Mailing What! Archive, and so far in 2007 takes up 5.7 percent of the mail. While the voucher package remains dominant, some mailers experimented with new formats and cross-promotions; a few, meanwhile, stuck with old controls that apparently still produce adequate numbers.
Medical Economics went with the unseen, especially in publishing mail, double-postcard for its new format. With a great teaser—“Can you be sued by a patient you never saw?”—on the front of the 6˝ x 9˝ card, the flip side gives the answer (“yes”) and then explains in one short paragraph why prospects, mostly doctors, should subscribe: “We bring you the information you didn’t get in medical school.” Besides the format, the biggest gamble is that no price is mentioned and the only response channel is to go online (Archive code #205-368391-0707).
Another publication using a postcard mailing was USA Today’s Sports Weekly, which employed a 4-1/4˝ x 6˝ triple postcard. On the mailing’s back, it personalizes by thanking the prospect in big bold letters for subscribing. Unfolding the package reveals a response card to “let us know how we are doing,” apparently in an effort to simultaneously improve and promote its customer service. Otherwise, two separate, small notes thanking the prospect are provided from the editor and customer service director, with their photos (Archive code #720-691966-0707).
The Wall Street Journal sticks with a voucher format, but uses its bookmark freemium to lead off the sales letter: “Use the enclosed bookmark to keep your place in whatever fiction you’re reading …. Use The Wall Street Journal for trustworthy business news ….” While that lead can be criticized as somewhat weak, WSJ makes another curious decision by not closing the letter, especially since it personalizes with “Dear …”; instead, it cross-promotes its sister publication, SmartMoney magazine, at the very end of the letter perfed to the reply form, which then gives a box to check if the prospect wants SmartMoney for $1 for one year (Archive code #255-171652-0707).
Speaking of SmartMoney, a 4-1/4˝ x 9-1/4˝ acquisition package also arrived—and the jury is out on this package as well. It bombards, perhaps excessively, the prospect with four offer options and tons of benefits, all on the reply form page. It cross-promotes Barron’s, yet doesn’t provide any information about, let alone a pitch, for Barron’s. Since financial readers do respond well to charts and graphs, SmartMoney does include a buckslip that effectively displays a bar chart showing how well its editors’ stock picks have performed (Archive code #205-434208-0707).
Lastly, Connecticut magazine shows up in the same control that goes back to 1996! The only difference is the #10 outer uses a heavier paper stock and a presorted stamp. Inside, the letter, response card and offer are practically identical. Look for a thorough breakdown of this successful control in an upcoming “Anatomy of a Control” feature for Inside Direct Mail (Archive code #206-173790-0707).
One to Watch: Redbook
With its plain outer and response card, the 4-1/4˝ by 9-1/4˝ voucher package from Redbook offers a rock-bottom “research discount” rate at $5.99 for a year—announcing that it’s a “market development test … in an effort to attract readers who fit various demographic profiles.” The voucher looks like business as usual, that is, until you see the rest of the mailing (Archive code #203-173446-0707).
A full-page letter, beside a full-length picture of a thirty-something female, asks the question: “Who is the REDBOOK Reader?” In the two succeeding paragraphs, it describes every kind of woman that exists today, such as “moms, role models, breadwinners … survivors,” and ends with, “She wants to be the best possible woman she can be.”
The bulk of this page is devoted to one- to two-sentence testimonials in bold. At the bottom, its “preferred subscriber continuous service” is explained by three points. In essence, Redbook establishes the reader—who, after reading this mailing, almost every female prospect can be described as such—and then gives reasons why she should subscribe.
The package clincher is a bright orange lift note from the editor. Opening it up reveals a short letter alongside a picture of the editor holding her young son. “I want to talk to you about your life …. So, where do you find time to squeeze YOU in? As the mother of an active child, I live that kind of busy life, too.” Yes, the editor is the reader, and vice versa. It’s what she effectively calls the “new REDBOOK.”