Ugly Mailings that Make Millions (1,396 words)
In the case of Fortune, since it is making this offer to known business professionals, it can assume the audience is already familiar with the product. Therefore, the mailing doesn't need to waste time or space describing the publication or extolling its benefits. It can focus on price, a very special price being offered only to "professionals."
Another down 'n dirty format to consider is the double postcard; it's inexpensive to create, produce and mail. And it can be very successful. Many publishers have come to rely on this format to bring in large portions of their circulations. Inc. magazine has been mailing one for nine years (since 1989), and it's still working.
Made up of two cards, connected by a perforation, the double postcard must have one half exclusively used as a reply device. It mails first-class, at a discount, because the post office is really collecting postage twice on one piece of mail.
There are four rules to making the double postcard format work. They are:
1. A well-known product.
2. An irresistible offer. Inc.'s offer is hard-to-beat: a free sample issue...plus a free special report (with sample issue)...plus a free soft briefcase (with paid sub)...plus a free pen and pencil set (with paid sub).
3. Easy to order. There's just one box to tick: Yes!
4. Bill-me payment option. The offer must be bill-me only: There's no return envelope to hide a credit card number or enclose a check.
Two Testing Strategies
So how can you take these simple ideas that have worked well for other mailers and use that knowledge to improve upon your own direct mail efforts?
1. The Adaptive or "Tweaking" Approach. Even strong controls eventually will start to flag due to familiarity. Prospects may have seen the same envelope in the mail before and therefore won't bother to open it. Or a format that worked well and was adopted by a lot of marketers in a given category might grow tired. Maybe you and your competitors are all making virtually the same offer and prospects are responding by saying "been there, done that."