Archive Director

Archive Director
Mailbag Review: Power Freemiums, Great Involvement

Each month, Ethan Boldt and I sort through the direct mail that we receive here at the Who's Mailing What! Archive. Usually, it's 1,000-plus pieces to go through, often over coffee and hopefully an awake eye for the innovative and effective. Needless to say, we always run across efforts that stop our sort in its tracks. For the November batch, I was attracted to two premium mailings in particular, alongside two other efforts that used inventive involvement devices (see thumbnails of all mailings mentioned below).

Archive Observations: With A Little Help From My Friends

Member-Get-a-Member offers are a good way for companies to capitalize on the loyalty of customers. For several months, Netflix (Archive code #127-692231-0909A) has mailed promotions encouraging members to "give free movies" to friends and family, and is thanked for "sharing" one-month trial cards with them.

Archive Observations: Survey Says, Back to School & Grand Controls

Winning back lapsed subscribers to one's publication can mean trying a variety of rates, likely starting with the very best one, or even mailing a redressed acquisition offer, perhaps reminding the customer of why they subscribed in the first place.

Archive Observations: A Political Battle Royale

Remember that nice, post-Inauguration glow? Well, it was nice while it lasted; it was back to politics as usual in July's mailstream. The centerpoint of efforts by both main U.S. political parties is, of course, President Barack Obama and his administration's agenda.

Archive Observations: More Resources For Human Resources

Among the many challenges faced by human resources professionals is the ability to keep up with a dizzying array of employment regulations and laws put in force by the federal and state governments. Fortunately, there are many companies in the marketplace that can provide this service.

Archive Observations: Colleges, Pharmacies & Our Grand Control Update

Nearly every month, the Archive receives mailings from colleges and universities, promoting degree programs (Bachelor's to Doctorate) in various fields. Usually, like in May, the approach to professionals seeking a degree tends to be unemotional and heavily benefits-driven.

Archive Observations: Financial Freedom For Seniors

Three real estate offers from April all bank on the fears that many seniors have about financial security in their later years, especially as they struggle with the economic recession. Casa de las Campanas, a retirement community in San Diego, asks "Has the news got you down?" on its

Archive Observations: A Look at the Ex-Files

Three offers from March's mailstream illustrate the importance of setting the right tone in renewing a former customer. Discover Card (Archive code #540-174144-0903C) mailed a blind #9 OSE with an offer to an ex-cardholder for its More Card. "You are important to us, and we want to do everything to win you back," the letter begins, then goes on to a standard pitch. The opening of the letter for DIRECTV (Archive code #581-638018-0903A) is a little less effusive: "We've missed you." In both mailings, the sales copy is identical to their acquisition efforts.

Archive Observations: Celebrating Two Great Men

Fundraising campaigns marking the lives of two great Americans, both Civil Rights giants, reached the Archive in February. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation mailed a membership offer in honor of the 200th anniversary of the 16th President's birthday. The teaser on the #10 OSE makes a connection to the present: "History is our story." The letter briefly  mentions the Great Emancipator's relevance to today's "challenging moment," but mostly highlights the museum's activities, all geared toward communicating to the world his history and accomplishments. The brochure, order form and letter clearly detail the benefits for each membership level, as well as promote premiums, such as a leadership book and a subscription to American Heritage magazine (Archive code #576-717571-0902).

Archive Observations: Healthy New Year?

Mailings for fitness and diet programs are usually all about promising a new and better "you." As the new year dawned, as if the prospect of a healthier and better-looking body weren't enough, Dick Benson's magic word, "free",  was all over the mail. "FREE ENROLLMENT!" screamed the front of Total Woman Gym's 5-1/2" x 11-1/2" postcard (Archive code #396-715112-0901). Weight Watchers reached out to former customers with a free registration offer for its new Momentum weight-loss program, calling it an "investment in yourself" (Archive codes #396-171849-0901A & 396-171849-0901B). Jenny Craig targeted its former clients with 5-1/4" x 10-1/2" postcard that includes a coupon for a "FREE DAY" of meals (Archive code #396-178528-0901). Virtua Health's Center For HealthFitness soft-pedaled its free enrollment offer, instead, making the connection between a healthy lifestyle and the freedom "to live the life you want" (Archive code #396-699905-0901).

Archive Observations: Where the Boys ... Aren't

Gender-specific vacations are not exactly new to direct mail—for example, golf trip packages heavily target men. But two offers received by the Archive in December for the first time promote "girlcations." Tour operator Overseas Adventure Travel (Archive code #501-172254-0812) mailed a 5-1/2" x 8-1/4" invitation-style offer for a women's "Only Get Together." The event, with two East Coast locations, is intended to preview the launch of women's-only trips (based on surveys and feedback from female travelers).

Archive Observations: The Power of Choices

With the recession and credit crunch in full swing in November, it didn't seem very likely that credit card marketers would be all that enthusiastic about offering customers, or prospects, a wider variety of choices. Yet, two offers that popped up in the mail show that some were, indeed, quite willing to be flexible. Capital One's letter to a "valued customer"-mailed in a 4-1/2" x 9-1/2" OSE with a "DATED MATERIAL" notice on the front-puts the ball firmly in her court. It simply notes that she is eligible for upgrades to her card account, and directs her to a toll-free number "to tell us which free upgrade option is best for you": more rewards, lower APR or other improvements. No reply forms, buckslips or brochures were used in the crafting of this message (Archive code #550-329024-0811).

Archive Observations: The Power of Choices

With the recession and credit crunch in full swing in November, it didn't seem very likely that credit card marketers would be all that enthusiastic about offering customers, or prospects, a wider variety of choices. Yet, two offers that popped up in the mail show that some were, indeed, quite willing to be flexible. Capital One's letter to a "valued customer"-mailed in a 4-1/2" x 9-1/2" OSE with a "DATED MATERIAL" notice on the front-puts the ball firmly in her court. It simply notes that she is eligible for upgrades to her card account, and directs her to a toll-free number "to tell us which free upgrade option is best for you": more rewards, lower APR or other improvements. No reply forms, buckslips or brochures were used in the crafting of this message (Archive code #550-329024-0811).

Archive Observations: A Good Time To Look Back

Amidst the market turbulence in October, a number of mailings stopped offering free reviews of finances and investments. Instead, they are providing services to reassure prospects and help alleviate any financial stress.

Archive Observations: Less Energy Equals Less Money

It's a connection that's been made by mailers I've reviewed over the last year: using less energy saves the consumer money. And, in September, two new "home improvement" offers continued the trend. Home Depot's 5-1/2" x11" self-mailer proclaims "Save Money. Save Energy." on the outer. Inside, the copy notes possible energy savings on new insulation, windows, water heaters and Trane HVAC systems. The prospect is invited to call a toll-free number or go online to schedule a free in-home consultation (Archive code #390-172889-0809).