The Envelope as Brochure
On a test for its book series "Our American Century," Time Life Books uses the whole envelope--literally (101TIMELI0199C).
The package is designed to be opened by peeling down the back panel of the outer envelope. The inside panels of the envelope then become an impressive 81&Mac218;2&Mac253; x 241&Mac218;2&Mac253; brochure. This dramatic, four-color display describes the two free gifts recipients will get--a book and a calendar--should they agree to preview the first book in the series.
Time Life Books Marketing Director Pam Farrell worked with Richard Zorn, account director, and Liz Muchow, account executive, from the New York city sales office of printing company Moore Response Marketing to create this package that was produced inline.
According to Muchow, this format is called a "part saver," because it uses the real estate that's been built into the package. The client doesn't have to add a brochure or buckslip, making the mailing more economical.
The inline package contains an order card, business reply envelope and bookmark freemium that have been printed all of one piece. Recipients detach the order card and BRE to get the bookmark, which forces them to do something with the other elements.
The four-page letter features a "gift certificate" attached to the top of the first page. The certificate, a suggested $41.94 value, can be "redeemed" for the free book, calendar and a $10-discount on the first book of the series.
For the test, Moore took Time Life Books' current control--a more traditional, 6&Mac253; x 9&Mac253; envelope mailing with a separate order card, four-page letter, elaborate brochure and BRE (101TIMELI0499)--and converted it to an 81&Mac218;2&Mac253; x 12&Mac253; flat that capitalizes on response-boosting devices, like personalization, response stickers and the gift certificate.
Other than the format, Moore Response changed very little about the mailing in terms of copy, design and offer, says Muchow. However, the inline package was tweaked to play up the premiums and "Centennial Survey" more than is done in the more stately control package.
Because inline production lends itself to the creation of a heavily personalized, interactive package, the premiums and survey were given more space to appeal to recipients, says Muchow.
Time Life Books tested the inline finished version in January of this year and found that it doubled response, Farrell reports.
But, as she puts it, the "game" in the continuity world is the take, so Time Life Books is still tracking the numbers to see how the inline finished package fares against the more traditional control.
The inline package just mailed again in June. While the results weren't final at press time, Farrell says the preliminary figures indicate the package is holding its own against the control.
In fact, this mailing's performance has convinced Time Life Books to split the risk between both packages for the time being.
When asked whether the more promotional, inline finished package might attract a different type of customer, Farrell commented that the test mailing is still bringing in the same types of prospects as the traditional control, but that there are probably more fringe respondents, too.
An interesting point: The control gives only brief mention to a "Centennial Survey" that respondents will get with their book preview, while Moore Response chose to play up this interactive device with headline copy on the test mailing's outer envelope.
Time Life Books just might be on to the next use of involvement surveys. While direct marketers are still seeing good response to the inclusion of surveys in prospecting packages, you never can tell when fatigue will set in as consumers get more jaded about bells and whistles. Incorporating surveys into your conversion or invoicing programs might put more emphasis where and when you need it.