Zimmerman Agency's Caroline Zimmerman on the Evolution of the Voucher
I used to write a package and then give it to a designer—sometimes that was great, but sometimes it really wasn’t. I believe that in voucher packages, for instance, the design takes precedence over the writing.
My design really came about because of the computer, which really revolutionized direct marketing. I developed a working strategy of first envisioning the design, then designing this vision and finally putting the copy in place to go with that vision.
Boldt: How did this change your working relationship with clients?
Zimmermann: When I started writing and designing, I started getting many more controls than I had prior to that. There’s nothing like having winners to put yourself in the hearts of those that hire you.
Second, when my clients started to critique an effort, I would have an answer for everything. I would be able to tell them why I did something. I could immediately defend what I was doing—and I could sell things that normally you can’t sell if you didn’t handle the design.
Boldt: What led up to your creation of the voucher?
Zimmermann: It came along about 15 years ago. I got that idea from the “Statement of Benefits” from the American Express Card in its monthly statement. I conceived the voucher package, but it was also fair to say that a few others were working on similar packages. I became known for the so-called “SOB Package,” or Statement of Benefits effort with the blue band.
Boldt: How did your publishing clients first react to the voucher?
Zimmermann: They jumped at it. There were two main mail pieces at the time: the classic editorial 6? x 9? package, with the four-page letter, a big brochure, order card, BRE, and sometimes a lift letter and BRE. For some, there was also the double postcard, which brought in almost no cash with order and sold with mostly a free preview issue and which further delayed billing. The editorial package was done much the same way, in terms of not much cash with order, premiums required, waiting for payment … all expensive avenues to go down.