Anatomy of a Control: A Major Acquisition
The letter, in response to the prevailing economic crisis, just underwent its first significant change. It now begins, "These days, you don't usually get much for $1.97. But that's the price for what could be one of the most valuable purchases you'll ever make." Johnson explains: "We call it the ‘Tough Times' approach. It evolved from an earlier test when we found that we got a terrific lift by positioning per issue pricing as opposed to per year pricing. We've used ‘$1.97 a copy' for the last couple of years, so the logical extension of that in the current economic climate was to have a letter lede that worked it in."
Before the prospect gets to that, however, there is a perfectly positioned lift note that's spot-glued next to the greeting. Added approximately three years ago, it's titled "From Mayo Clinic's mailbag" and uses one strong testimonial. "The package was jammed full, yet we loved the testimonials so much that we had to find a place for one. And we wanted to use it in a dramatic fashion and not just tuck it in some place by cutting copy," unveils Johnson.
To segue between the lift note and letter, a Johnson box that's personalized, uses faux-handwritten blue ink and refers back to the testimonial was added: "Someday you may even say, as one reader did, ‘Thanks, you're a real life saver.'"
After the new lede, the prospect comes across the most major change from the previous control: free reports. "The last control was all about the hard sell of the newsletter. I saw an opportunity to significantly improve the offer by incorporating existing special reports as premiums," says Johnson. Because it was off-the-shelf material, it didn't add to editorial costs. Every three or four years, Mayo Clinic updates the premiums. The first test included special reports on weight loss and back pain; the most recent incarnation is weight loss and arthritis.