Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

It's All in the Asking; Asking for Personal Information on Order Forms Lifts Response for Some Magazines

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

It's All in the Asking; Asking for Personal Information on Order Forms Lifts Response for Some Magazines

Article excerpt

It's all in the asking

Conventional wisdom says that you usually hurt response when you include questions in subscription solicitations. But, "there are situations where [asking questions] can actually increase response," says marketing consultant Gordon W. Grossman, who worked for 18 years as a marketing executive for Reader's Digest.

Speaking at Direct Marketing Day in New York City, Grossman noted that asking questions worked well in a space ad for Better Homes and Gardens' Craft Club. The questions, which asked if respondents were first-time, intermediate or advanced crafters, increased pull by more than 10 percent in a number of controlled tests and also raised the rate of pay up. The reason, he said, is that "asking questions implies that the [books] will be tailored to the respondent, helping to allay their worst fears."

A similar approach worked in a recent launch mailing for Fine Gardening magazine. Respondents checked off boxes on the order form indicating interests in seven different kinds of gardening activities, from landscaping to garden design to edible plants. The information, they were told, would be used to guide editorial coverage in the new magazine. "Instead of getting survey results from theoretically interested individuals, they're letting their real buyers vote for their preferences," said Grossman. "They're also building a database of gardening interests, starting right from the launch of the magazine--and that's smart, too."

In both cases, Grossman stressed, the questions sought information about individual preferences. …

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