One way to cut through the clutter of the mailbox/in-box is to stop the casual browser cold with a headline so outrageous that it is impossible to ignore. What is fascinating is that in the world of political ideology, this technique works for both arch-conservative and arch-liberal publications, as is evident by two efforts mailed in October.
The blazing, red #10 "WARNING!" effort is the launch package (202AMECON1003) for Pat Buchanan's The American Conservative. Buchanan's four-page letter (in typewriter type) starts off:
If This Be Treason,
Make the Most of It!
With apologies to Patrick Henry, it's finally come down to this. After more than 40 years as a conservative and a patriot, I've been labeled a traitor!
And my new magazine The American Conservative has been called a purveyor of treason ... And not by a liberal magazine.
National Review says so!
Working with copywriter Peter Gogan and consultant Ron Burr (former publisher of American Spectator), circulation director Veronica Yanos crafted an offer that uses the so-called "hidden comp-copy" technique. It asks for payment ("check enclosed" or "charge my credit card") followed by a "bill me later" option. Check the bill-me option, and you will receive one or more issues without paying for themthe equivalent of a free issue offer.
Prospects are given two term options:
* Save $28! OFF Cover Price32 weeks (16 issues) for only $19.95
* Save $42! OFF Cover PriceA full year (24 issues) for only $29.95
As of November 2003, the publication had 10,700 paid subscribers, with 2,000 of them generated from newsstand sales. Because the magazine is still in the maternity ward, no definitive pay-up information is available. Stay tuned.
On the liberal side of this month's mail stream is this double postcard stopper from The Nation created by Joe Quint who echoes the "treason" theme (202NATION1003B). When asked if pay-up was as lousy as ever on a double postcard, Vice President of Circulation Art Stupar revealed that The Nation subscribers pay up at the rate of 50 percent to 60 percentnumbers to kill for.
This effort slavishly follows the four rules necessary for success with a double postcard:
1. With so little room for selling copy, it must be an immediately recognizable product.
2. A fantastic offer (take four issues free plus a poster of George W. Bush looking like Mad's Alfred E. Neumansent upon payment).
3. Easy to order (tear off the Business Reply Card and drop it in the mail; no postage necessary).
4. Bill-me option only (no envelope to enclose payment and no request for credit card information on a Business Reply Card. You should never solicit payment or other personally identifiable information on the business reply card).
Stupar, a former management consultant and 10-year veteran of Scholastic, has been at The Nation two years. Since the election of George W. Bush, the paid base has jumped from 94,000 to 155,000. A hot Web site generates 25 percent to 30 percent of new subscriptions to The Nation. Sharing in the credit is the list brokerage wizardry of Chris Paradysz, CEO of ParadyszMatera.
While this double postcard effort is currently on top, Stupar has the luxury of several 6" x 9" controls that always bring in results within a few points of each other. This means if one begins to flag, he can pop another one in the mail.