Anatomy of a Control: Nutrition Health Newsletter
From sensationalist television news reports to the explosion of the internet, a lot has changed over the past two decades in the way the public consumes information about health, especially pertaining to food. But through all the clutter and noise, the Nutrition Action Healthletter's acquisition control package has remained remarkably consistent and effective for the past 17 years and counting.
The package, which has evolved slightly over the years, most notably with the outer envelope design and teaser, has used the same number of inserts, a four-page letter and a plethora of direct mail best practices to keep its prospects-primarily women age 65 and older, many of whom have diet-related diseases-abreast of the most relevant and vital nutritional facts. Mailed in a standard #10 envelope, the latest incarnation, titled RSVP, features a tame carrier with nothing but the teaser, "RSVP The favor of a reply is requested" along with Nutrition Action Healthletter's return address and a window. Inside, the package contains a yellow reply envelope with the copy "Your first-class stamp on this envelope enables us to put vital funds to work for better nutrition and food safety!" and "Please rush my order! I want life-saving health information NOW!"; trifold brochure; reply card with a description of the premium, Healthy Foods: Your Guide to the Best Basic Foods, perfed to the bottom; a "My Guarantee To You!" certificate guaranteeing to "FULLY REFUND" the unused portion of a subscription if a customer chooses to cancel it at any time; and the star of the package, an in-depth, informative four-page letter (Archive code #250-172620-0904).
When the control was first mailed nearly two decades ago, it was slightly different than the RSVP version mailed today. Looking to beat the prior control-a #10 that also had four inserts (a "Test Your Nutrition IQ" insert, a four-page letter, reply card and BRE)-Dennis Bass, deputy executive director of Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nutrition and health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science advocate organization that publishes Nutrition Action Healthletter, and Bill Dugan, former marketing director of CSPI, were searching for something that would stand out and resonate with prospects.