Ugly Mailings that Make Millions (1,396 words)
Other than the letter, the only other pieces in the package are an order card and BRE. With so few elements, it is a simple, inexpensive package to produce. There's no brochure, no lift note, no four-color graphics.
The Utne Reader's "Reading & Dining Salon" is another plain-Jane mailing that has probably made millions for the publisher since it first appeared in mailboxes back in 1985 (see TM June 1998, pp. 40-41). Once again, it's great copy and an amazingly simple design that keep this workhorse in the mail year after year.
My favorite part of this mailing is legendary copywriter Bill Jayme's classic lift letter. It's been tinkered with a bit over the years, but always starts out with "Utne rhymes with chutney. In Norwegian, it means far out..." Signed by Eric Utne, it describes the unconventional method in which the magazine is put together.
Both the lift note and the letter sound like they were written by an individual for an individual. As copywriter Richard Armstrong has said: "What makes a letter personal is not seeing your name printed dozens of times across the page, or even being battered to death with a never-ending attack of "you"s. It is rather, the sense that one gets of being in the presence of the writer...that a real person sat down and wrote you a real letter..."
Down and Dirty Formats
"Professional" rate offers have been used by most of the big business magazine publishers, as well as news magazines like Newsweek. Key to their success is the right list and a strong offer. Fortune has mailed a couple of variations on this theme.
The "bare-bones" version of this format has no letter. The offer is stated on the order form and attempts to accomplish the same feeling of exclusivity by stating, "As a select professional, you qualify for..."