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DAL Investment tests magalogs against 9 x 12-inch envelopes.

$1,000,000,000.00. Boy, all those zeros really get your attention, don't they?

DAL is a San Francisco investment advisory firm that both publishes a newsletter and manages client funds. Vice president Janet Brown told NL/NL that their total funds under management has surpassed the $1 billion mark.

But we were also interested in their current package tests. DAL publishes two titles, The Upgrader, which is really a promotional vehicle for investors and prospects for their mutual funds, and NoLoadFund*X, a traditional subscription newsletter (12x, $179/year).*

They began producing The Upgrader, DAL publications director Jeffrey Smith explains, "because a considerable percentage of our investors came in after having been originally subscribers to the NoLoadFund*X title, and we wanted to provide them a familiar information source."

DAL had been promoting the funds with an elaborate 9 x 12-inch envelope package that included a quarterly issue of The Upgrader and a number of other pieces about the company. This spring, however, they made a major test and changed to a magalog self-mailer format. They mailed 50,000 pieces of an 18-page magalog that contained 12 pages of "editorial content" and a 6-page questionnaire intended to guide investors to the proper fund.

Magalogs' cost and logic

The biggest concern about the magalog format, certainly for business newsletter marketers, has been cost. But in the 18-page, 2-color format, this self-mailer actually went into the mail for 11 percent less than the envelope package.

According to Jeffrey Smith, the logic behind the change was the apprehension that just having to open an envelope discouraged prospects and, once inside the envelope, prospects might just look at one piece in the package.

DAL's tests showed that people didn't remember envelope copy or read any more than the first piece in the package. DAL anticipated achieving better recognition and brand identity by combining all the important elements into one piece, a magalog.

Conventional Wisdom

The thinking behind using an envelope--whatever its size--is the following conventional wisdom:

* An artfully crafted envelope with intriguing teaser copy will bring the prospect into the envelope "to see what is in there for me."

* The purpose of using multiple inserts in a package is to give the marketer three or four different opportunities to catch the attention of the prospect and make an entry into the offer. Hence publishers' notes or lift letters with headlines like "Only read this if you have decided not to take advantage of our No-Risk FREE Offer!"

(Speaking of full-bore DM packages, the late Bill Jayme told a wonderful story about sitting in a plane across the aisle from a guy who took one of Jayme's DM packages out of his briefcase. Bill watched him. The guy read the teaser, he opened the envelope, he read the long Jaymsian letter, he opened the oversize brochure, he examined it, and then he reached for the order form. Bill relaxed until, "He then folded the order card and used it to pick his teeth.")

DAL's test results

The results of the magalog mailing were "very encouraging." Smith reports they have received an increase of 46 percent in the number of questionnaires returned by prospects compared with the most recent mailing of the envelope package.

Following those encouraging results, DAL is going in the mail just now with another test of a magalog format, this time for the NoLoadFund*X title. They are mailing 90,000 pieces from eight lists--"A large volume for us," Jeff reports.

It's a straight A/B test with a 50/50 split using "exactly the same copy and offer formatted as a self-mailer or as a 6 x 9-inch envelope package," Jeff explains.

He will share the results from this mailing with us sometime around Thanksgiving.

DAL Investment Company, 235 Montgomery Street, #1049, San Francisco, CA 94104, 415-986-7979, fax 415-986-1595,

*The NoLoadFund*X newsletter used to include an asterisk in front of the title, *NoLoadFund*X, which totally flummoxed alphabetizing programs when I published the association's newsletter directory. For a couple of editions it wound up the first title listed in the directory. "Yes," Smith says, "that's part of the reason we dropped it."
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Title Annotation:Promotion
Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Oct 23, 2006
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