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Two recent DM notebooks revisited: freemiums and off-the-wall thinking.

When we last visited Fngo Guss, long-term loyal New Yorker subscriber ("DM Lite," NL/NL 11/16/04), he was feeling a bit disgruntled because, even though he dithered and didn't mail his renewal until post-expire, while he paid full price, not one but two subsequent mailings arrived offering discounts of first $10 and then $20. Aarrghhh!

But now is all forgiven. What pops up in Fngo's holiday mail but a gift from The New Yorker--a 2005 Cartoon Calendar. It's black and white, but on glossy stock, so it has to have cost them a couple bucks. Fngo was simply pleased as all giddy-up.

Why just the calendar?

But still somewhat puzzled. There was absolutely nothing in the envelope but the calendar. Why not even a simple letter? "Our Thank You, Fngo, for all your support." Of course, as an unreconstructed marketer, I would have been hard-pressed to avoid the urge to sell something. Almost anything--one of their books of specialty cartoons of golfers, cats, lawyers, etc. At least give Fngo the opportunity to extend the subscription at "a very special price."

Dan Capell of Capell's Circulation Report likes to say that every single piece of correspondence from a publisher to a subscriber should include an advance renewal offer.

Newsletter marketers know The New Yorker's free calendar as a "freemium," a little something extra, more than the subscriber paid for, something to give him or her a bit of warm, fuzzy feeling to remember come renewal time.

NL/NL includes this type of thing as a periodic bonus--a mini-special report included with the regular issue, like last issue's 4-page report on postcards printed on demand.

Another way to do it is as part of the regular renewal series. But this time as a stand-alone, not included with a renewal notice.

I knew a publisher who did an extensive study of his renewal response pattern and learned he had basically only two kinds of renewers:

* Early, the first notice or two, no matter how far out the expire date;

* Late, at expire and later.

In between, response was close to bupkus. So he dropped a couple of those intermediate notices, saving the cost of postage, and substituted the mailing of a freemium ... hoping for the aforementioned "warm, fuzzy feeling."

Update on Franco-American relations

Paris Notes publisher Mark Eversman reported to us in October (NL/NL 10/18/04) that his circulation had plummeted from 13,000 to about 9,000 since 9/11.

"Yes, I suspect we have lost a certain number of readers who have become mad at France and don't want to spend any money 'supporting' them. What I have noticed is that our decline in subscribers has almost exactly paralleled the decline in tourist travel to France the past several years."

So, considering the low state of Franco-American relations, Mark has taken the bull by the horns. His December-January issue includes an Editor's Letter from Eversman to French President Jacques Chirac.

"Dear Jacques,

"I am the publisher of a small (although well-known among Francophiles in the U.S.) newsletter about Paris. I am writing to ask for a favor. Since about two years ago, sales have been down--do I need to explain why? Anyway, I know the elections in the U.S. didn't exactly turn out as you hoped, but now that it's a done deal, maybe it's time for you and George to kiss and make up. I need you guys to be friends so I can sell more subscriptions.

"You know, I never quite understood why you and George never got along. You guys are alike in so many ways ....

"So, please, work with me. I'm doing my best to sell your country. Now it's your turn. Call George and do your part to settle this little rift."
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Title Annotation:Promotion
Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Dec 17, 2004
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