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Mark Johnson's award-winning DM package for Mayo Clinic Health Letter garners two million paid orders to date...and still counting. (Promotion).

Mayo Clinic Health Letter is published monthly with three supplementary Medical Essays per year. Since its launch in 1983, this consumer newsletter has built its circulation almost entirely by direct mail. The publisher had amassed a dozen years of response history when the decision was made to develop new creative in 1995.

Acting on the principle that the best way to improve response is to improve the offer, the copywriter, Mark Everett Johnson, of Hollis, New Hampshire, made a review of potential benefits to add to the offer. He noted that two health topics that are of great interest to consumers had been the subject of recent Medical Essays. For the first time ever, Mayo Clinic Health Letter went in the mail with a premium offer--its Medical Essays on weight loss and back pain.

The two-premium offer produced the highest percent response (gross and net) in the history of the publication, Of even greater impact was the fact that the new package produced the lowest cost per order ever, in spite of increases in postage and printing costs that had occurred over twelve years since the newsletter's inception.

Becomes the control

The package has rolled out quarterly for seven years, each time with several test panels developed by the publisher and the original copywriter in a program of continuous improvement. The package has remained a control in spite of several new creative packages that have tested against it.

Although the copy being mailed in 2002 was substantially the same as the copy mailed in 1995, the package has undergone many enhancements that have enabled it to avoid much of the response fatigue that would be expected in such a long-running control.

For example, the outer envelope was redesigned and the original premium on back pain was replaced by a premium on arthritis. Copy claims as to the specific content of the newsletter have also been updated periodically.

The package and the offer

The current outer envelope clearly stands out in the mail--at 14 inches tall x 11 inches wide, with a "fold and detach along perforation" opening device along the left-hand edge--alongside a list of the Editorial Board.

The teaser copy runs both above and below the oversized name and address (everything in this package is oversized). Above:

With our compliments... a free trial issue of America's most trustworthy personal health letter

And below the name:


two additional gifts have been reserved in your name

Inside is a six-page sales letter (9.5 x 12); a flyer describing, on one side, the free special reports and, on the back, "The Mayo Clinic Story"; an order form and guarantee; and a canary yellow BRE.

The numbers

Johnson said, "Mail volume for the first three quarters of 2002 exceeded 13.9 million pieces. Continuing its multimillion piece rollouts one quarter after another, this package has generated over two million paid orders to date ... and still counting."

The judges of the 2002 Newsletter Promotion Awards Competition honored this package with a Silver Award.

Johnson, 16 Spaulding Lane, Hollis, NH 03049, 603-465-3888, fax 603-465-3889,
COPYRIGHT 2003 The Newsletter on Newsletters LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:May 31, 2003
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