Carlisle, Pa.

Copy on the front of the envelope remains the tried-and-true method for most mailers to reach prospects. It's where you find teasers, offers, deadlines, personalized data, etc.—and these approaches run the gamut, from oversize formats with scarcely any copy/images to smaller efforts that are covered with copy and have full-bleed images.

The Internet age has been both a blessing and a curse for direct mail. On one hand, there is less mail in the physical mailbox, as many marketers have reduced their volumes in favor of e-mail messaging. On the other, prospects appear to make more rapid-fire decisions about their mail.

The famous, oversize, in-line package from Mayo Clinic Health Letter, keyed by editorial premiums and long, benefit-filled copy, is the most successful subscription piece ever written—it's sold 4 million subscriptions since debuting in 1995—for a monthly periodical. Mark Johnson, the Carlisle, Pa.-based copywriter behind this control, describes a few reasons why this effort is withstanding the test of time:

It's sold 4 million subscriptions since first rolling out in 1995. Tactful, thoughtful and genuine-certainly fundamental to its ability to remain relevant-the Mayo Clinic Health Letter also employs many of the finest direct mail tactics to great effect and continually makes small revisions to maintain its top-dog status.

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