The Old “Hot Potato” Is Back in Action!
Have you ever heard about the fabled Reader's Digest penny mailing where two pennies showed through the window of the outer envelope?
It was created by the legendary Walter Weintz, and it was hugely successful. Walter called those pennies the "hot potato" — something that called out to you to take action. If you threw the mailing away without opening the envelope, you were throwing away good money. (Of course, a penny was actually worth a penny back then!)
Yesterday, I was up to my elbows in direct mail as I was helping out with some scan-on-demands for one of our Who's Mailing What! members and guess what jumped out at me. No — not another penny mailing — but three (count 'em three!) nickel mailings!
All of these were for fundraising efforts — two for animal causes and one for wounded veterans. So here's how the packages explained sending the nickel:
• One letter opened with "Why have I enclosed a nickel? I'll explain in a minute, but first I want to tell you about ..." Later it reveals that the charity "doesn't even have a nickel to spare," but took the risk of sending it as the recipient was their "only hope." Great gut-wrenching copy!
• Another didn't mention sending the nickel, but between the coin and the sheet of name and address labels, the envelope was bulky — which would cause folks to want to see what's inside.
• The third mailing gets right to it with "When I began sending out these free personalized address labels with nickels, people said we were crazy!" The P.S. is great: "Even if you can't manage a gift today, please do send back the enclosed nickel to show you haven't forgotten our heroes."