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Is It Time to Change Your Creative?

Jun 30, 2014 9:41:48 AM

Think your current direct mail package is worn out and ready to retire? Well, it may only appear that way to you and others in your organization—but not to your prospects.

When creative has been in use for some time, there can be a tendency to think it is “fatigued” and want to change it. But beware of change for the sake of change.

Although you may be overly familiar with your mail piece after developing, updating and mailing it over time, it’s much fresher to your prospects. And with their busy lives and full mailboxes, even if it’s stellar, they may have no recollection of having seen it before—even if they have.

Don’t get me wrong. Ongoing testing (whether it’s creative, list, offer, or anything else) is, and will always be, sound direct response practice and is important to improving results. But your existing control creative may remain effective for a long time, even if you don’t have the budget for further testing. This is especially true if there is significant churn in your audience, or when you are implementing a new customer welcome or onboarding program, as your “old” creative package is always new to a fresh audience.

When it is time to try something new, don’t forget two important things:

  1. It’s critical to test against your control creative rather than abandoning it entirely. There’s simply too much risk otherwise, in case the new approach doesn’t perform well, despite your best and most creative efforts.
  2. Before starting from scratch and investing time and money to develop an entirely new mail package, keep in mind that sometimes even small changes can make a big difference.

For example:

  • Test a new outer envelope only. This makes an existing package appear new in the mailbox even to those who have received it before. It can also be developed relatively quickly and inexpensively. And since a direct mail package only works if someone opens the envelope, it’s a good thing to test.
  • Add a buckslip or lift note if you don’t already have one. It’s a low-cost way to add more real estate for extra emphasis or incentives.
  • Change the size of your package. An existing #10 envelope package can fairly easily be morphed into a 6 x 9 or other size that will stand out in the mailbox.
  • Update your offer. Particularly if you are offering a white paper or case studies, developing content on a new topic can be a fairly simple way to freshen up your mail package, and give someone a new reason to respond.
  • Test response methods. Are you including a business reply envelope along with other response options? Test and see if the number of mail responses justifies the expense of printing and inserting the extra envelope, the return postage and manual response processing. Even if there is a small decline in response, it may well be offset by the cost savings.

Finally, if your control package is still performing well, or if it remains the winner after ongoing testing, let it do its job. Organizations have been known to use a winning control package for a decade or longer and still find it unbeatable. Remember: It’s often the mailer who becomes bored with the control long before the audience does!

Linda Frost

Written by Linda Frost

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