Direct Mail

Vary the Offer, Keep it Fresh
May 10, 2006

Want to prevent a successful offer from fatiguing? Consider making minor adjustments to your offer and use a slightly different variation each time you mail. Omaha Steaks, for example, mails retention and acquisition efforts on almost a weekly basis. According to the company’s Corporate Communications Director Beth Weiss, since April 2001, Omaha Steaks has been mailing a free burger promotion to customers, offering everything from six to 12 free burgers, and many variations in between. The offer used in one effort that mailed in February included a scratch-off game piece that reads “Scratch Here! For up to 12 FREE Burgers.” The winning number of burgers

Eight Hot Spots for Direct Mail Typos
May 10, 2006

Where are the eight most likely places in a direct mail campaign for a typo to appear? According to Gayl Curtiss, managing director of The Hacker Group, a direct marketing agency in Bellevue, Wash., marketers should pay close attention to the following elements of their direct mail campaigns: 1. Phone numbers, both call and fax—it’s easy to transpose numbers. 2. The company’s name—anywhere it appears. 3. Signatory’s name—you often don’t have a proofing tool to verify the correct spelling. 4. Terms and conditions—proofers often don’t read them. 5. Address information—wherever it appears. 6. Headlines—they’re big and people blow right through them. 7. Letter set-up—vendors often retype perfect copy from laser mechanicals. 8.

Achieve Visual Effects With Coatings
May 3, 2006

To achieve special visual effects on direct mail pieces that not only create more eye-catching efforts, but help to more effectively communicate messages and boost overall response, consider applying various coatings at the finishing stage. According to Jeff Banks, technical manager, continuous improvement at Menasha, Wisc.-based Banta Corp., one technique that has gained popularity over the last few years is applying a textured coating to direct mail pieces. Using a polymer, rubberized plate and an ultraviolet coating, nearly any type of raised impression can be created on a mail piece—from faux, raised fingerprints to wood grains. Other special techniques available to mailers interested in developing high-end

Present Perfect
May 1, 2006

Some folks have a knack for gift giving. They just know the perfect gift for every special occasion, leaving you marveling at their great intuition and taste. However, while intuition may be good enough for some, Cleveland-based personalized gift retailer Things Remembered has taken gift giving closer to a science. What started as a key kiosk in a shopping mall parking lot has grown into a nationwide enterprise with approximately $300 million in sales, more than 650 retail locations and some 7 million active customers on file (another 8 million customers make up its customer archive). Specializing in personalized gifts for all occasions—everything from

Colin Wheildon on Direct Mail Design
April 26, 2006

In 1995, journalist, designer and editor Colin Wheildon added “international author” to his curriculum vitae with the release of “Type & Layout: How Typography and Design Can Get Your Message Across—Or Get in the Way.” In-the-know designers and marketers responded by adding his treatise to their repertoires. What made Wheildon’s concepts so intriguing is that they were based not on his own design aesthetic or anecdotes, but rather on a nine-year study into the readability and perception of various typographic elements. A decade later, Wheildon joined with writer and editor Geoffrey Heard to expand on his earlier work. As Wheildon explains, the revised edition,

What’s Working With Freemiums
April 26, 2006

When I e-mailed 99 circulation directors and consultants for this article, my response rate was a big, fat zero. It seems freemium users are tight-lipped about their successes. One publishing company achieved a 10 percent lift using a bumper sticker and plans to test an in-line package, but didn’t want its name disclosed. Another publisher polybags its magazine as part of an acquisition mailing, but maintains this is not a true freemium. A third magazine known for its freemiums asked not to be mentioned, no reason given. And on it goes. But after turning over many rocks, I found three freemium users who were less

More Personalization, Less Money
April 19, 2006

When it comes to direct mail, there’s no denying that personalization works. And, in most cases, the more personalization you put in a package, the better. Nowhere is this more evident than in the commitment some mailers have to inline production and in the extra fees others are willing to pay for match mailings. But if the design limitations of inline aren’t for you, and the added hand work and cost of match mailings make multiple personalizations within a package cost prohibitive, you may want to try a drop-cut reply. This production technique allows a mailing to have a personalized letter and reply device

Famous Last Words: A Direct Marketing Horror Story
April 4, 2006

Many years ago, Meredith Book Clubs, headquartered on Long Island, N.Y., lost $250,000—a considerable sum in 1968. I was hired to fix the problem. The offer was neat—seven mini-cookbooks as a free gift with (as I recall) a four-book commitment and bonus books, just like Book-of-the-Month or Literary Guild. However, I was stunned to learn many brand new members were canceling before they even received the premiums. It was truly mystifying. The first thing a new member should have received was the welcome package containing the seven free books; a warm, welcome letter that resold the benefits of the club; and precise instructions on how the negative

Manage Your Mail Costs
March 14, 2006

Good planning and collaboration with production partners can save you money Postage prices continue to increase, as does the pressure to improve profitability. Direct marketers who depend on traditional printed promotions as one of their most responsive channels are again looking for ways to increase sales and reduce costs. Here’s a look at some of the printing and production techniques available that help trim costs, as well as best practices that can help you take advantage of these techniques. Collaborate With Your Resources “Collaborate with your package designers and writers,” recommends Bill Christensen, a direct response creative and marketing

I Was Peter Possum
March 14, 2006

In the 1960s, Grolier Enterprises was run by four dynamos: Founder Elsworth (The Shark) Howell, whose real love was judging dog shows; Vice President Bob Clarke, who started in the Grolier mail room; Vice President of Marketing Ed Bakal, a rough-hewn ex-paratrooper; and Vice President of Creative Lew Smith, a low-key, creative genius. Grolier’s business at the time was selling Dr. Seuss books to kids. The competition was Weekly Reader Book Club and Scholastic’s paperback book clubs, which sold books to students in classrooms through the teacher. Using the Scholastic paperback model, a guy named Joe Archy started the Willie Whale Book Club. Howell watched it