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Cabot and copywriter maximize advance renewal potential.

By their very nature, advance renewals are considered onetime-only mailings.

If the subscriber accepts the offer, he's spared the inevitable pleas of an extended renewal series in return for the superior benefits of a limited-time deal. The publisher saves time, money, and resources.

But what if the advance renewal were a success and generated a high response? How could you resist the temptation to mail it again? Can you mail it again, after making much ado about the renewal's tight expiration date, or deadline?

That's the problem that faced Sheila Frisch of the Cabot Heritage Corporation and freelance copywriter Robert Lerose last fall. The answer pleased both of them.

Frisch asked Lerose to come up with something new.

Six advance renewal fundamentals

"In writing a lot of advance renewals, I've come to adhere to some fundamentals every time," Lerose said. "First, identify that this is a renewal offer right at the start. Second, make this the best offer. Don't reward procrastinators. Third, inform the subscriber that it won't be repeated. Fourth, explain why you're making this offer at this time. Fifth, include an expiration date for the offer. Sixth, stick to the exclusiveness of the offer."

The new outside envelope headline echoes these essentials: "Get dramatic savings and a FREE gift when you renew today. LIMITED TIME OFFER. See inside."

The letter opens with an eye-popping copy burst containing the expiration date, or deadline, for the offer. In fact, the short letter specifies the expiration date three times.

It goes on to enumerate why it pays to renew now and repeats that this is a one-time offer that simply will not and cannot be offered again.

"I'm a big believer in 'reason why' copy," Lerose said. "It's not enough to say something is special or important or urgent. You've got to prove it."

The letter was sent by regular mail and by e-mail in late August and scored over 5 percent response. Frisch was so encouraged, she wondered, even though it was a solo effort, if they could mail it again? It didn't take them long to come up with a solution.

Rolled out again with 'slight variation'

"We didn't want to insult subscribers who renewed with the first effort by appearing to go back on our word," Frisch said. "We recognized that the letter mailed in August, when people are typically on vacation. At Robert's suggestion, we sent out the same letter with a slight variation."

The slight variation turned out to be a simulated handwritten personal note from Carlton Lutts, the editor, emblazoned at the top of the letter: "Maybe you missed this over the summer .... Here's one more chance!" The original expiration date was made to look scratched out with the new reply date scrawled above it.

"We felt we could get away with doing it like this. It sounded plausible," Frisch noted.

The numbers bear her out. They received a 7.56 percent total response. But would this strategy work during any month? Lerose thinks so.

"Things get lost in the mail or jumbled in our mess at home all the time," he said. "We're just giving the subscriber the opportunity to jump on something very sweet and stay pretty true to our word at the same time."

Sheila Frisch, operations manager, Cabot Heritage Corporation, 176 North Street, Salem, MA 01970, 978-745-5532,

Robert Lerose, copywriter and consultant, 628 Meadowbrook Road, Uniondale, NY 11553, 516-486-0472,
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Title Annotation:Promotion
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Mar 17, 2005
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