Vouchers: Variations on a Theme
For the last two decades—and particularly the last few years—vouchers have been a mailstream staple. And despite occasional evidence to the contrary, the format doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. “It’s really amazing,” states Patricia Silver, president of Bethesda, Md., consultancy Silver Marketing. “That little package, for the right product, does so well.”
Most of the time, that “right product” is either a magazine or a newspaper, but voucher fever has been spreading of late, working its way into the programs of association, software, nonprofit and even financial services mailers. This can be attributed, in part, to savvy mailers “stealing smart,” contends Caroline Zimmermann, of Brookville, N.Y.-based The Zimmermann Agency. “It takes a bigger imagination to look at the broad picture [and] see what’s working in all different areas and interpret that into what works for you,” she states, citing a long-term voucher control from North Shore Animal League and a recent voucher effort from Capital One as classic examples.
This cross-pollination, coupled with the inevitable fatigue that comes from years of appearing in consumer’s mailboxes, has lead to a mailstream full of interesting voucher variations, as mailers across the board test and tweak to keep this cost-effective package on its game. Here’s a look at some of the tactical trends that are leading the way.
The More Is More Approach
“The biggest trend that I see taking place is that the voucher packages are metamorphosing from the traditional, plain vanilla, three-panel voucher with BRE into practically full-blown packages, dressed as vouchers,” states Zimmermann. While the concept of a full-dress voucher package may seem like an oxymoron—isn’t simplicity part of what makes a voucher’s ROI so high?—mailers have been finding cost-effective ways to make it work, mainly in the form of modest elements that lift response enough to pay for themselves.