Quieting Skeptics With a No-Risk Offer
Including a prepaid merchandise return label in acquisition direct mail efforts is not a new concept in the book-selling business. But, more often than not, this tactic is used for single book titles, not book club mailings. That's why this 81/2" x 11" 28-page magalog from Doubleday Large Print book club stood out in the March mail (125DOLAPR0304).
This acquisition mailing offers readers five books for 50 cents, plus a free tapestry travel bag with membership. The front cover of the magalog asks the recipient why Doubleday's bestsellers make people so happy, personalizing the question with the recipient's name for added impact. This question is answered in letter form on the inside cover page, as well as throughout the magalog's copy, with examples of membership benefits.
Probably one of the most interesting features of this mailing, however, is the merchandise return label located opposite the inside back cover. And directly above the label is a very large and obvious 100-percent guarantee that also assures the prospect that there is no risk in joining the book club.
While the use of a merchandise return label in a book club mailing appeared to be a new occurrence, Eileen O'Hea, marketing manager for Bookspan, the New York parent company of Doubleday Large Print, reports that the prepaid label has been used since December 2000; it first appeared in the company's "Happy" creative campaign. "It was added to reinforce our 100-percent satisfaction guarantee," she says. "It continues to work very well, both in terms of response rate and the quality of members it brings in compared to tests done without the return label."
O'Hea adds that the label has performed so well that it has been added to other previously developed direct mail campaigns and all of Bookspan's new
direct mail efforts since the label's first use almost four years ago. So what motivated Doubleday Large Print to begin using this type of response-booster?
"Since there are a number of companies that target the older consumer, we wanted to stand out by providing an added feeling of comfort and security to a population that has become wary of offers that are 'too good to be true,'" says O'Hea. "We wanted to show that there were no hidden gimmicks in our offer, and we back it up with both a guarantee and, if they are still not satisfied, a postage-paid way to return their items and cancel their membership."
O'Hea notes that overcoming people's fear of a scam is just one obstacle Doubleday and Bookspan encounter. Additional hurdles include the negative attitudes people have toward mail-order book clubs and competition with other booksellers.
"To get past these obstacles, this [magalog] incorporates real quotes from current members and a prominent listing of benefits we feel that this audience would relate to," says O'Hea. Some of these benefits are the large print, the ability to return unwanted books at Doubleday's expense, and more book titles available online.
Currently, Doubleday rotates its creative approach in its acquisition efforts four times a year. "We coordinate with the holiday season, and we mail to
coincide with the release of big books/authors," O'Hea says.