Shake Things Up
For Nightingale-Conant, a company that mails on average 15 direct mail efforts per month (in the boom years, that number topped out at 38 packages!), it pays to deviate from the norm on occasion.
If you remember the control mailings for Agora's International Living and FC&A's various health books, then you will know that a short, additional letter is inserted into the outer envelope on these efforts, along with a sealed envelope that contains the sales letter, response form, BRE and any inserts. This smaller letter is used to convince recipients to take a look at the contents of the inner envelope packageconsider it the sales pitch for the sales pitch.
The reason for configuring the direct mail effort this way is to break the recipients' tendency to rush through the mailing; it tries to slow them down a little and help re-focus their attention on the message in the sales letter.
That's the same idea behind the set-up of elements in this #10 envelope package for "The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny," a self-help audio program. In this case, the oddity is a full-page reply form that is attached to a prefatory letter from President Vic Conant. The 11" x 17" sheet is folded in half to create a four-page form; the first two pages are the letter from Conant, who introduces the product as well as the Nightingale-Conant company (a wise move in this age of skepticism) and urges recipients to read the larger letter, called a "report." The second two pages are reserved for the breakdown of response options and the reply form.
By keeping the initial letter short and easily skimmed, Nightingale-Conant helps recipients ease into the main letter/report and, in fact, positions the letter as more than just a sales pitch; instead, it's valuable information on how to take charge of your life. No stigma of "sales" is attached to this element, since the reply form is linked to the
Even customer testimonials are kept separate from the report, confined to a four-page form that is printed on pink paper. What makes the testimonial element innovative is the way it's also treated like a kind of letter, with a lead and summation from Conant. The postscript that follows his signature pushes the call to action and lists the response options available.
Note that there is no Web response option on the reply form; only direct mail, phone and fax. Every element is careful to list the reply address in case the prospect does not hold on to the BRE or introductory letter. Plus, the type on the reply form is nice and big to help Nightingale-Conant's older audience easily read the offer
details and response steps.
The reason for using this package configuration is one of function, to be sure. But it might have an additional cost-savings benefit; it probably costs less to print an 11" x 17" form than it does to produce a separate order card on a heavier stock.
Since we've received other efforts from Nightingale-Conant that feature this extra letter/reply form, it's no doubt paying for itself.