Putting People Back in Creative
In the May issue of Inside Direct Mail, freelance copywriter Ken Schneider announced in his column, "If You Ask Me," that he had beaten the big, bad voucher format with a 9" x 12" poly package for one of his clients. We're happy to note that Schneider's got some company.
The Archive picked up a new effort for People magazine, a 51/4" x 73/4" envelope package that centers around a greeting card. According to Brian Brassil, marketing manager for the People group at Time Inc., this new package was tested twice in 2002 before rolling out this year as control. While not exactly a voucher package, its predecessor is certainly a kissing cousin of the highly functional, low personality format. The defeated mailing is a 4" x 8" envelope effort with a one-page letter that features an attached order form. The offer is promoted as an unusual deal from "preferred subscriber services."
Brassil says the idea for the greeting card approach came from an in-house brainstorming session conducted by the promotion and creative teams. Since People's subscriber base is 91-percent female with an average age of 44, the teams were focused on finding the right creative platform to appeal to today's complex woman. Of all the ideas generated, the group felt the greeting card concept was the only one that "had legs."
Another reason the folks at People are pretty proud of their coup: All copy and creative was done in-house. The mailing consists of an outer envelope fashioned from pale blue, ribbed paper stock; it makes the mailing tactile and more like a party invitation. The greeting card features an illustration of a stressed-out woman on the run from her never-ending to-do list. The headline, "Doing a bit too much lately," sets up the pay-off message inside: "That's why you deserve something just for you." The rest of the message copy uses trigger words like "treat" and "enjoy." The 41/4" x 6" order card lays out the details of the offer, and features a cover from a recent issue of the magazine. A BRE provides a gracious way to respond.
The offer, a four-issue free trial billed as a mini-subscription that dials up to a 21-issue deal for $38.94, has not changed from the prior control; the installment billing of three payments of $12.98 remains the same, too.
One of the big obstacles to beating a voucher-like package outright is cost; the voucher style is inexpensive to produce, and pay-up is good because of the similarity to an invoice. Any other creative approach has to pull extremely strong response and net an equally good pay-up. (Although, I suspect a long-term analysis may show a weakened renewal pattern with voucher-generated subscribers.)
In this case the outer envelope has no window, making the effort a more expensive match mailing. Also, the multiple elements and color add a bit more overhead. Even so, the package is paying for itself and beating control, says Brassil.
Is the time of the voucher drawing to a close?