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A tale of two direct mail packages.

Rather than a tale of two cities, this is a tale of two DM packages from the same city, Boston, both arriving in the mail on the same day, both in white 9 X 12-inch window envelopes, and both soliciting subscriptions to health newsletters.

And that's where the similarities end.

The one that did not work

Package #1--whose publisher will go unnamed for obvious reasons--is formatted vertically with a preprinted indicia upper-right and "Current Issue Enclosed" printed in red to the right of the window.

The only other copy is the Boston return address on the back of the envelope.

The "Current Issue Enclosed" teaser moved me to open the envelope immediately--only to be disappointed to find that the "current issue" is, in fact, a 16-page promotional magalog.

Never--and I say never--try to trick prospects into opening an envelope under false pretenses. Once they realize they've been tricked, you've lost all but the most naive (and non-converting or non-renewing) prospects.

"I've been had" is not the reaction you want from a prospect.

In all other respects, Package #1 was pretty impressive: no fewer than six special reports advertised in color on glossy paper, all "Free with Your Membership"--plus a bonus report for responding "in the next ten days." Plus a "special introductory discount price of $49 ('I save $50')."

Plus this money-back guarantee: "Rush me my FREE six bonuses and activate my membership immediately. I must be happy or I will receive a full and prompt refund on the balance of my membership--right up to the last month!"

But all those time-tested techniques could not--at least for me--overcome my initial reaction that "I've been had."

The one that did work

Package #2 features lots of carrier copy, printed horizontally in "Harvard" red and black. Yes, it's from Harvard Medical School. Posted in bold black is "Why do some men ..." followed in much smaller, red type in parentheses "(Open and be surprised!)."

A bold red stripe runs across the bottom on both sides of the window with the following copy reversed in white: "Candid answers FOR MEN ONLY from the physicians at Harvard Medical School. FREE ISSUE - 2 FREE GIFTS - OPEN NOW!"

The back of the large envelope features five bright red questions, such as, "Can Viagra hurt your heart? (Most likely not, but there's one warning you MUST heed. SEE INSIDE ....)"

Being freshly fooled by Package #1, I immediately opened the package to see if the five questions were actually answered and to see where that intriguing teaser "Why do some men ..." might lead.

It led directly to three bright red questions and an invitation above the salutation:

"Why do some men live longer?

"Why do some men look younger?

"Why do some men stay sexually vigorous?

"Let the physicians and researchers at the world-renowned Harvard Medical School show YOU the way to a longer, healthier, happier life--just send for our next issue ABSOLUTELY FREE!"

Everything promised on the envelope is delivered inside, either in the compelling 4-page sales letter from the publishing director, Edward Coburn, or in the lift letter from Harvey B. Simon M.D., Harvard Men's Health Watch's editor.

For example, Simon writes in his note, "Did you know ... Viagra is safe for healthy hearts--but men with cardiovascular disease MUST check with their physicians first before using the wonder drug?"

The sales letter

So, I've already been rendered amenable to the offer because I'm getting real answers to real questions. Ed Coburn's sales letter lured me in even further with a disarming opening:

"Dear Friend:

"If you're like me ...

"You put it off ...

"You push it out of your mind ...

"You delay, delay, delay ...

"What am I talking about?

Why, your health of course!

"We men are positively notorious for ignoring our health ... for listening to dubious advice from our pals ... and even for putting off seeing a doctor when any woman in her right mind would get the help she needs!

"That's why I'm writing you today about something that can make an immediate, positive change in your life."

"It's an award-winning publication from Harvard Medical School called HARVARD MEN'S HEALTH WATCH."

Coburn uses an age-old "empathy" tactic in his opening phrase, "If you're like me"--easily appropropriate for one man writing to other men.

Another of his approaches is not so universally accepted: mentioning the publication by name on page 1. As Fred Goss mentioned in his DM Notebook in the last issue, some publishers prefer to talk only about the premium and wait till the end of the letter to name the newsletter--presumably to lead with a strong card, the premium.

But in this case the well-known and respected Harvard name is Ed Coburn's strong card.
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Title Annotation:Promotion
Author:Swift, Paul
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Jul 17, 2005
Previous Article:Fay Shapiro builds on her love of newsletters, PR, and directories.
Next Article:Distinguishing between a guided missile (or pigeon) and a whetstone.

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