Tricycle Magazine Perfecting a #10
Deluxe self-mailers appeal to publishers for a few main reasons: their creative potential, visibility in the mail, quick production time and low cost. Yet when publishers test self-mailers against more traditional letter packages, they may find that the more expensive letter packages still come out on top.
With 200,000 pieces dropped, Tricycle, a nonprofit magazine that covers topics in Buddhism, is finding such results in its biannual acquisition mailing. In mid-May, panel tests to outer copy, letter copy and also a deluxe triple postcard format were tested against the #10 control mailing. The control mailing includes a #10 outer envelope with a window, four-page letter, brochure, buckslip, reply and BRE (Archive code #202-178152-0905).
While the self-mailer was a cost-effective option, the #10 letter pack still appears to be generating the most response. "We're getting a healthy response overall, but it seems like the control package is leading ... although from a profit-and-loss perspective, the self-mailer is also doing well," comments Allison Steinberg, associate publisher for the New York-based publication.
The #10 package grabs readers' attention immediately with strong teaser copy above the address window, framing the offer and teasing the premium gift, a free guided meditation CD. To the right of the address window, a persuasive endorsement from actor Willem Dafoe, "Tricycle is one of the only magazines that I actually read cover to cover," further compels prospects to open the package.
Once inside, there is the long letter, with a headline at the top, again plugging the free gift. Throughout the letter, the offer is outlined as a risk-free subscription to the magazine for $19.95, or 37 percent off the newsstand price, plus a free guided meditation CD. Within the text, renowned contributors to Tricycle, such as Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama, are mentioned in bold print. There are also actual article titles mentioned to make the content more tangible for prospects.
One of the highlights of the package is a 3-1/2' x 6-1/2 horizontal brochure that folds out into four panels, filled with cover thumbnails, photographs and illustrations. The brochure also includes testimonials; industry accolades; a list of articles, authors and sections of the magazine; and the publication's original mission statement. These elements paint a picture of what prospects can expect from Tricycle.
Rounding out the package are a buckslip touting the benefits of the guided meditation CD premium and a reply card adorned with thumbnail magazine covers and copy about the publication's high-quality production values. Tricycle also includes a BRE in the package and receives cash with order for about half of its total response.
The $19.95 price point is actually a test, up from the control of $16.95. "We have not tested a higher price point in a long time, so we're very curious to see how people might respond," Steinberg comments. She points out that the prospects willing to come in at a higher price point tend to renew at higher rates and maintain longer lifetime values.
Steinberg says the mailing goes to a national audience of diverse readers who all share an interest in Buddhist subjects. "Folks don't necessarily have to identify as being Buddhist to like our magazine. About half our readership [self-identifies] as Buddhist; half does not," Steinberg reveals. Finding new audiences for this niche publication has proven a challenge, and Steinberg keeps aware of new list opportunities to avoid repeatedly mailing to the same finite universe of prospects.