Zimmerman Agency's Caroline Zimmerman on the Evolution of the Voucher
My premise about direct mail has always been to put my money and my time into the envelope because you can have the greatest contents, but if nobody gets to them, so what? So I like to create an envelope that I call “mildly disturbing”—there’s something about it that the recipients can’t quite be sure that they should stuff it into the garbage. They either open it or put it someplace where it will be [opened].
Boldt: Is there a voucher style that you tend to use, or is it often different?
Zimmermann: It can be both. At Hachette, it’s the same package, just different logos, and same spirit for every title. But it’s rare to get the same voucher to work for every title. That’s why direct marketing is just as much an art as it is a science. We just don’t know when it will be one or the other. Same deal with Hearst, where the voucher control worked for most of their titles but not all.
Boldt: Are publishers asking for more from the voucher?
Zimmermann: Yes, one trend is that publishers want more branding in their package. They want to use the same typeface they use in the magazine, the same colors, same styles and icons and graphic design.
I consider that very carefully, as that can work to your advantage or can be to your disadvantage, depending on how that magazine was developed. A great example of that concerns renewals. I tell them I’ll use their branding in the beginning, but as we get further along in the series, they have to let me use my judgment. A lot of times the graphic devices you want to use just don’t have enough power to them to execute on a renewal effort. To say “you’re expiring” in 45 Helvetica light type is missing something. It doesn’t have the impact.