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Travel newsletter finds new lists, builds marketing campaigns.

About a year ago, Mark Eversman, publisher of one of my favorite newsletters, Paris Notes, shared some information about his plans for his "largest ever" fall 2000 marketing campaign.

Eversman was trying to achieve two goals with his fall 2000 mailing: to reduce the in-the-mail cost of his package, and to expand his list universe.

Lists of confirmed Francophiles are good for him, and he's mailed some of them numerous times, but there are only so many.

The lower-cost package

Ignoring the advice of experts like yours truly, Eversman developed a package which features:

* A 2-page letter--not 12, 8 or even 4 pages. It features what he calls his "humble" approach: "For over nine years, I've been publishing Paris Notes. This small and humble newsletter is all but unknown to the general public."

* Full price ($39). Hard offer. No discounts. No "special savings opportunity." No editorial premium, like "Unknown Insider's Paris Delights." Basic envelope teaser, "An invitation to subscribe to the newsletter for ... people who love PARIS." [*]

* Letter Order form. Courtesy reply envelope. That's all folks.

Expanding the lists

Eversman added his expire file (I'd been nagging him to) of 7,000 names and, for the first time, tested the gay market with lists from a gay travel newsletter and a gay magazine. He also tested a very interesting new list revealed below. With all of this, he reached 161,000 names.

Results

For Paris Notes, "One percent is a good list for us," Eversman said, and the fall mailing came in at 1.4 percent inching toward 1.5 with allocation of telephone orders. (Trying to trace telephone orders by list source is more trouble than most newsletter publishers are interested in, so they can be simply allocated to lists in proportion to the mail results from those lists--using the theory that if you hadn't sent mail, you wouldn't be getting those orders.)

Expires

Former subscribers came in at about 2.5 percent. "We will continue to use the expire list for each mailing," Eversman said. Some say your expire list should be your best list. Eversman noted that his best-ever list responses are in the 3.5 to 4.0 range. Nota bene: This seems right, but if your expire list is your very best list, there may be something wrong with your renewal series.

Gay lists

"The gay newsletter brought us about what other travel newsletters bring; the gay magazine did about as well as any other magazine. Conclusion: Being gay doesn't predispose one to being a Paris Notes subscriber," Eversman observed. On the other hand, we may assume these lists brought him new names that may not have been on other lists Paris Notes has mailed to.

The "Mystery List"

Last fall Eversman tested 10,000 names from American Express of cardholders who had used their credit card in France during the previous year. Response was good enough that for the new spring 2001 mailing he rented the entire list of 62,000 names.

Very interesting. Conventional wisdom holds that real newsletter prospects are people who like both to read and to buy things through the mail, and AMEX cardholders don't necessarily fit that profile. Also, can't you hear the privacy people complaining that AMEX should not be making this personal information about members available to direct marketers?

New for spring

Paris Notes inserted a buck slip touting their web site into the basic package. "This, I think, was a bit of a risk," Eversman noted, "as I did not want to confuse the message. But with all the free stuff I am offering on the web, it was too irrestible not to mention it. The price of the first year's subscription gets you almost three years of Paris Notes plus other goodies.

"People are responding to this. They very much like having the paper copy, but they also love having extra stuff on the web. I think this is a winning proposition. I just hope the numbers show this with a large mailing." (The current one is 261,000 names.)

Early results from spring mailing

Very favorable. March was the newsletter's best month ever and circulation is approaching 13,000 and "15,000 by the end of the year looks possible," he said.

Sign of the times

This interview took place entirely via e-mail while Eversman was in Paris on one of his frequent "business trips."

P.O. Box 3668, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, 310-545-2735, www.parisnotes.com.

Who launches a Paris newsletter from California?

I had to ask Mark Eversman that question. He explained that, after growing up the son of a Darien, Conn. adman and going to college in Colorado (where he was a competitive skier), he spent nine years in ad sales for Sports Illustrated in New York, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles.

And then he quit (he calls it a "junior mid-life crisis) and moved to Paris "to become a, gulp, model and commercial actor. Lived with a French girl the last of my three and a half years there." (Pause, while readers contemplate chucking it all, moving to Paris, and acquiring a French significant other. Sign.)

After returning home ("long story"), Eversman didn't want to go back to the corporate world ("Who would hire me?"), so he assessed what he knew something about, Paris, and became intrigued with Mac Computers.

"Bought one, plugged it in and told myself, 'Okay, now you're in business. Let's call it Paris Notes.' The ulterior motive was to have a tax write-off to go see my girlfriend. Still have he newsletter, but not the girlfriend. The rest is history."

(*.) Paris Notes uses a preprinted standard rate indicia-my least favorite behind both live stamps and metered, but it's a few bucks-a-thousand cheaper as Eversman strives to cut the mail costs. And he's getting results.
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Newsletter on Newsletters LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Apr 30, 2001
Words:968
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