August mail in the Who’s Mailing What! Archive heralds the changing of the seasons as well as back to school. Despite such motivations, the mailstream witnessed few novel efforts from the retail sector. Let’s take a look at those few retailers who broke out of the pack and did some things out of the ordinary.
Responding to the recent draconian postal rates, some mailers changed their formats without changing an iota of their content—and thus gave a glimpse of the future. Radio Shack simply folded its old 9˝ x 11˝ flier in half in order to save on postage; it utilized an envelope-like flap on the side of the self-mailers’ last page to not only seal the fold-over, but also to use an effective teaser: “How much stuff can you do this fall? Just look inside.” (Archive code #910-171847-0708B).
Trader Joe’s went a simpler route: It simply shrunk the size of its seasonal menu guide to 6-1/4˝ x 8˝. Because it didn’t want to lose content, the food market added pages. Now, unfortunately, the guide is not as much fun to page through because each page has half the number of inviting items that are written in a J. Peterman-like fashion as it did previously (Archive code #910-415403-0708).
A variation on what it’s done before, Walgreen’s targeted AARP members with its effort. On the #10 outer, it announces “Exclusive offer for AARP Members inside” and, consistent with making a mailing readable for retirees, repeats the language in very large type in the middle. Of course, perfed to the top of the letter is something that will get their attention immediately: a $20 live check, made out to Walgreen’s, that can be used for any items in the store as long as the AARP member purchases any transferred prescriptions. Also, perfed to the bottom are three retiree-relevant coupons for products. With baby boomers nearing retirement age, this kind of mail will surely pop up more and more (Archive code #910-173479-0708).
Another drug store, CVS, went in a far more innovative direction with its 5-1/2˝ x 8-1/2˝ self-mailer. First, it heavily personalizes the effort by referring to the prospect by her first name and placing a graphic of her house and address next to a road, with a CVS marked by a star not too far away. The teaser says: “Save gas. Save time. Save money.” And then tells the prospect that this CVS is closer to where she lives than Wal-Mart or Target. Second, it centers the mailing around gas prices, which are sure to increase and become a major issue for prospects; on the front, it pictures a gas pump and states “Right now, the average cost of a gallon of regular gas in Pennsylvania is $2.94”; on the back, it does the math for her, saying “Shop at CVS weekly and you’ll save $7.53 in gas per month.” That’s pretty brilliant (Archive code #910-669946-0708).
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, what do they say about one mailer blatantly ripping off another one? Linens ‘n Things has done that with its 6˝ x 11˝ self-mailer, which imitates practically everything from the staple oversize effort from Bed Bath & Beyond, down to the “20% off” coupon, oversize type and font choice. Still, it’s effective because prospects have difficulty throwing these efforts out because of their size and attractive discount (Archive code #910-403272-0708).
Lastly, both Bloomingdale’s and Bath & Body Works went with event-based mail. Bloomies used an upscale invitation-style 5-1/4˝ x 7-1/4˝ effort, with heavy card stock inside. On the outer, copy reads “donate $10 to charity and we’ll give you 15% off” and, inside, it turns out that customers are being invited to a one-day event called “Give A Little, Get A Lot!” However, with multiple events going on at different locations along with three cards detailing these different events and participating charities, it can get quickly confusing for the prospect (Archive code #910-171673-0708A).
The 5-1/2˝ x 7-1/4˝ self-mailer from Bath & Body Works is more straightforward—opening to advertise its “The Ultimate Beauty Cravings Event” and containing all of the important details on one page, along with the nearest location to the prospect’s home. Two discount cards, for a free aromatherapy session and reduced price tote bag, are also presented (Archive code #910-434166-0708).
One to Watch: Rite Aid
Okay, admit it, you want to read about one more drug store! The reason why we’ve anointed Rite Aid as the “One to Watch” this month is because it entered the mailstream with a mailing that does multiple things well.
First, to let you in on the corporate side of drug store companies, Rite Aid recently bought Eckerd. People are pretty loyal to their local drug store, and often the pharmacist who dispenses their drugs, and Rite Aid wisely understands this. In fact, the theme of its entire 6˝ x 8-1/2˝ self-mailer is to reassure the Eckerd customer, rather than toot its own horn about how superior Rite Aid is (Archive code #910-693570-0708).
The back of the outer features the Rite Aid sign, with multiple and ethnically diverse employees of the company next to it with very welcoming expressions on their faces. The cover lines? “A really good drugstore is about to get better. Eckerd is becoming Rite Aid. Celebrate with $15 in savings!” The opening flap of the self-mailer offers a warm greeting from the CEO, with her friendly photo next to it; in the short letter, she tells the prospect that “you’ll still have all of the same pharmacists, store associates and services you’ve come to depend on, only now, you’ll have so much more.” Behind the flap is a same-sized picture, this time of a pharmacist—emphasizing the personal nature of the drug store.
Opposite the opening flap reveals a rundown of benefits, as well as eight coupons for commonly used drug store items. It closes with more words from the CEO, “a special thank you from all of us at Rite Aid” and says the attached savings are “my way to say thank you for your continued loyalty during this transition and to apologize in advance for any inconvenience you may experience. We will make the transition as smooth as possible.” Apologize? When was the last time you got a mailing that said that?