Posted by Denny Hatch
#128 Blog Post – Wednesday, May 28, 2021
The Days When
Worked Like Gangbuster$!
A True Story
"One day a man walked into a London agency and asked to see the boss. He had bought a country house and was about to open it as a hotel. Could the agency help him to get customers? He had $500 to spend. Not surprisingly, the head of the agency turned him over to the office boy, who happened to be the author of this book. I invested his money in penny postcards and mailed them to well-heeled people living in the neighborhood. Six weeks later the hotel opened to a full house. I had tasted blood!"
—David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising
The Joyous World of Lo-tech Direct Marketing
In the palmy days before email and the Internet, the simplest way to reach a person over a distance was the was the single 4" x 6" postcard with two sides—the kind for sale at souvenir stands the world over. Side 1 is for the address, stamp and a short message (e.g., "Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.")
The other side could be a glorious photograph of a city or a great tourist attraction. For a business, the single postcard was a cheap way to reach customers—with news of a store-wide sale or the announcement of a great new product. Churches and PTAs could reach parishioners and parents to remind them of an upcoming bake sale.
The Single Postcard Advantage
It was the cheapest way to reach a person with a message—1¢ postage in 1900. 8¢ in 1974.
The Single Postcard Disadvantage
The original postcard was one-way correspondence. To reply required work—writing a letter and spending money for an envelope and postage stamp. Or making a phone call. Further, without a formal, built-in reply mechanism the sender had no way of knowing whether the card was delivered or if anybody at the other end even saw it or read it.
Enter the Built-in Reply
In the early 1900s the Japanese invented the double postcard—a blank postcard attached to the bottom of a regular single postcard and folded. The recipient could detach it, write a message on one side, address and stamp the other side and send it as a reply.
The Genius of the Double Postcard in Direct
American magazine publishers—in cahoots with the U.S. Postal Service—turned the double postcard into a huge, highly profitable marketing technique. Millions of these little guys were designed, printed and mailed out offering a Free Issue. When the reply cards came back to the publisher, the result was millions of dollars in subscription revenue. What's more these thousands of new subscribers brought in many more dollars in revenue from delighted advertisers. Plus... a ton of money in reply postage for the Post Office.
Basic Elements of Direct Mail.
—Herschell Gordon Lewis
(Good news! You've been selected to receive a complimentary issue of Inc. plus Two Free Gifts.)
3. Circular or Brochure ("IT" copy). This element shows and describes IT—the product or service and ITS many features (as opposed to benefits, which are found in the letter). "IT" is illustrated with photos, drawings, descriptions and captions that prove "IT" really exists.
4. Order Card/Order Form ("ME" copy). "Yes, please send "ME" the item.
5. Reply envelope. It brings the order home.
The Inventive Double Postcard That Sold Inc.
For 4 Consecutive Years by Compressing the Five
Basic Elements into a Single 4" x 6" Format
Front Side Reverse Side
Top Left Panel: Contains Two Basic Elements: 1. Envelope equivalent (address label) and printed indicia/postage stamp. 2. Short letter with personalized salutation. ("YOU" copy).
3. Top Right Panel (reverse side of the top left panel) is the Circular/Brochure. ("IT" copy) Shows "IT"—the magazine covers in full color plus the Inc. tote bag (Premium #1)... plus the free executive pen and pencil set (Premium #2) and includes a taste of the upcoming contents.
The Seven Advantages of Postcard Mailings
1. Cheap to Produce. Once the postcard was tested—and retested—and proven to bring in new subscribers at or below the allowable cost-per-order, a circ manager could order this amazing single piece in the hundreds of thousands and warehouse them. They'll be good-to-go for years to come.
6. Make These Mailings Seem Even More Personal. Using actual postage stamps and handwriting fonts for the letter give the illusion that a real person sent these out and can increase response.
Above are two postcards with handwriting from Club Med to prospective vacationers—part of a 3-card series. These went to direct marketing professionals (Joan Throckmorton and her husband, Sheldon Satin). Both Joan and Shelly were totally fooled and spent much time trying to figure out who Kim and Richard were!
7. Easy to Reply/Order. Simply check the "Yes" box, detach the reply card half and drop it in your outbox or outgoing mail.
A Disadvantage to Using Double Postcards
These are bill-me offers. The deal: you send out a free issue and then must send out a series of billing/collection letters—a far more cumbersome and expensive system than simply charging a credit card.
"When the comp copy offer first came into being—and Architectural Digest was one of the first to use it—conversions [payments] were somewhere around 50 percent. Today that's down to 30 to 40 percent and declining. The public has gotten spoiled. Now a lot of people respond to offers just to get the comp copy and then cancel. In fact, two database companies have created lists of chronic comp copy cancels. I will be able to run this file against rented lists and use it as a suppress file, which means my percent response will go down, but pay-up should improve dramatically."
—Carla Johnson, Circ Director, Architectural Digest
Because the double postcard invites tire kickers (consultant Bob Doscher called them "Premium Bandits"), the double postcard could be a dicey medium. You can never pronounce a postcard effort a success until you see the net pay-up, which can take six months or more. But the big numbers up front can enable a mailer to net out better than—or equal to—a hugely expensive, cumbersome full-dress package on a cost-per-order basis.
Modern-day Double Postcards =
No Great Offer. No Reply Card. Teeny Boring Copy.
WITH THE KEYS
TO A NEW
UX 200 FWD
Dear Danny [sic],
Wherever you envision life taking you, Wilkie Lexus wants to help you get there. Our vehicles are crafted with the right combination of attitude, performance and design so that you can forge the path of your dreams.
Turn your imagination into reality this month and drive away with a brand new 2020 [sic] Lexus US 200 FWD*
Please visit: findmyupgrade.com/mppuml by May 31st to explore all our current opportunities.
Reach out at your earliest convenience for more details or to schedule a test drive.
General Sales Manager
Additional Important Disclosures
*Offer for new vehicle listed expires May 31, 2021.
See dealer for details.
Wilkie Lexus Screw-ups
• I'm Denny Hatch. Not Danny.
• Wilkie is unloading last year's (2020) models and conning me into believe they're "new."
• If you're hustling last year's models, you damn well should offer a discount under MSRP.
• Clearly this is NOT "providing elite customer service and a premium selection of new Lexus vehicles."
• In the first week of May 2021, a "brand new 2020 Lexus" is ipso facto NOT brand new!
• Postcard mailings are offer-driven.
• The only Lexus offer is the afterthought: "... or to schedule a test drive."
• If you're gonna get into direct marketing, hire professionals, do what they say and expect to pay them well.
Word count: 1807
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Hey, Denny, loved this installment ... but regret you didn't provide a blown-up copy of the Club Med postcards. I surely can't read them at the provided size (even with magnification. The handwritten lettering just fuzzes out). I really would like to read copy that could fool a couple of top direct mail pros, even if only briefly.ReplyDelete
Denny, sorry about that. It says I'm "signed in" but, for some reason, didn't put my name on the previous comment (or probably on this one, too). I'm not Anonymous. I'm Roger Keeling in California ... and always so happy to see one of your blog postings.Delete
It seems that the envelope or visible part of the postcard has yet a third duty to fulfill these days; to convince the postal employee to actually do their job and see to it the item is delivered. This is something that I have heard Gary Halbert elude to during his standard A-pile - B-pile discussions.ReplyDelete