To see the work of great painters, you usually need to go to a museum or art gallery. To read the work of great copywriters — and learn from it — you need only to look through the mail that arrives at your doorstep every day. One masterpiece that has been mailed continuously for about 20 years is the member acquisition effort for Amnesty International.
The fight among fundraisers for donor dollars is real, especially among cancer charities that take many different routes to getting attention and then gifts from prospects. Take Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, for example, and two of their prominent direct mail "controls."
To achieve success in direct mail, you don't need an eye-catching image or teaser on your outer. Sometimes a cartoon will do just fine. That's just one of the takeaways from JoAnn Kalenak, acquisition marketer at High Country News. Two versions of the magazine's acquisition package have been received by Who's Mailing What! for more than 3 years, qualifying them as "Grand Controls."
Direct mail has always been the key marketing channel for launching or relaunching a magazine. Formerly, that meant a splashy magalog. But times have changed, as publishers don't want to invest that kind of cash — yet they also hesitate to send out the common voucher for a new title.
Teaser copy and photos can be a powerful 1-2 punch in nonprofit direct mail. This combo works well for the current member acquisition effort by the Union of Concerned Scientists. It's been mailed for over three years, one of the latest of over 1,500 Grand Control mailings tracked by the giant database of direct mail and email (Who's Mailing What!) The team behind the package was Mal Warwick Associates, where it was designed internally; the copywriter was Barry Cox.
In a difficult economy, museums have a difficult enough task in raising money. Of course, for museums that have not yet opened, they face an even bigger challenge: inspiring people to become members when they can't even enjoy all the facility has to offer. That's exactly the story with the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The first book that we published — "The Secrets of Emotional, Hot-Button COPYWRITING" — was based on some of the most successful examples of direct mail that were found in Who's Mailing What! It continues to be a big seller for us, in part because there aren't any other books about copy drivers and even fewer that showcase the mail pieces that have earned companies millions of dollars.
"Control mailings" — those mailings that are repeated in the mail — are considered successful mailings and are often the most worthwhile for marketers and printers to study. It's why they play such a prominent role in our multichannel marketing database, Who's Mailing What. But how does the use of personalization vary depending on whether a mailing is a control or not? And in which industries is this happening the most?
In an age of email, instant messages, blogging and texting, it's facetiously been said that the art of letter writing survives principally in one place in society: direct marketing. And that fact alone justifies the continued proliferation of direct mail advertising! Kidding aside, the following are a series of random principles, warnings and frankly subjective, if closely held, beliefs that …
If you use direct mail, one of your biggest challenges is beating a control in a head-to-head test. Here's my 7-step procedure, based on proven problem-solving methods. It works for any medium, including direct mail, prints ads and broadcast spots.