Pull the right emotional levers to reach formers

Posted by Stephen Jensen on Aug 16, 2016 6:00:00 AM

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Is your direct mail striking the right tone with formers?

Hitting the right emotional tone with your direct mail is critical. And when it comes to reaching former subscribers, knowing how to appeal is as important as the practical details of the direct mail package itself. To be effective, your DM must touch on feelings of exclusivity, greed, desire, and even fear.

Rotate packages for best results

Rotating your packages and emotional levers helps you appeal to different types of subscribers and their motivations. Refreshing your creative is especially important when heavily targeting an important group like former subscribers. This prevents recipients from glossing over your mailing simply because they’re used to seeing the same piece over and over.

The same goes for adding a new offer to an old package. Many people won’t even see it unless the creative is fresh.

Below are three tried and true package styles that pull specific emotional triggers. The first two are the most common. The third is less well known, but worth getting into your mix for best results.

To see examples of these and other packages, visit our samples page.

The promotional package

This common creative package appeals to a recipient’s sense of greed by offering something too good to pass up. Naturally, you’ll need to include a great deal for this to be compelling. So save this package for your best deals. Say, 70% off when they subscribe immediately, or something similarly enticing.

The most commonly used approach for this is an oversized postcard. But we’ve found an envelope usually works better for promotional packages. The content is similar to what you’d include in the postcard, but the envelope has a better open rate.

The statement of benefits package

This package looks official. It appears to be a bill, invoice, or something that should not be ignored. By suggesting that it may be a previously overlooked bill, it creates just enough anxiety to get the piece a second look — and hopefully make it to the “pay attention” stack of mail. This package works well with formers since you have a prior relationship with the recipient. It’s a common package within the publishing industry, but an effective one.

The personal appeal

This less common package appeals to a sense of exclusivity and personal connection. It often includes a letter from the publisher directly asking the recipient to renew their subscription. It’s a way of saying, “we want you back,” while reminding them of the benefits of subscribing.

It also lets readers know that not just anyone gets this deal. They are getting it because they’re a valued former subscriber worthy of individual attention.

Overall, the personal appeal is a more reasoned argument with a subtle responsive device. But this quieter sell works well with a certain segment of your audience, so it's worth adding to your creative mix.

So whichever packages you choose to use when contacting formers, don't rely too heavily on just one. Instead, rotate and refresh them to engage formers and bring them back into the fold.

Visit our samples page to see examples of the packages mentioned above along with many others available to our newspaper co-op partners. 

Stephen may be reached at sjensen@drg.com

Topics: Newspaper Mail Co-op, Direct Mail, Acquisition

Stephen Jensen

Written by Stephen Jensen

After several years working in the direct marketing field, Stephen co-founded Direct Resources Group with Scott Zorn in 1993. Today, he manages a variety of customer retention and acquisition programs for clients such as T-Mobile and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as donor acquisition and renewal programs for a variety of non-profit organizations.