Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Are Direct Mail 'Freemiums' Worth the Price? One Circulator Argues They're Good Image Builders; Another Claims They're a Waste of Money

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Are Direct Mail 'Freemiums' Worth the Price? One Circulator Argues They're Good Image Builders; Another Claims They're a Waste of Money

Article excerpt

Are direct mail 'freemiums' worth the price?

New York City--What's the best approach to finding new business subscribers: lavishing prospects with "freemiums"--a free gift in the package--or selling the value of the magazine with a no-frills mailing?

Two circulation directors at architectural magazines squared off on the age-old question during a recent prospect mailing--and each claims that his approach is the better.

Bill Communications' direct mail package for controlled-circulation Restaurant and Hotel Design included an "ego-enhancing" personalized cartoon. Conceived by circulation director Gerald Burdick, the cartoon depicted a client saying to an architect: "I want it to be original, inspired, unique. You know, like something by [John Smith]."

About 40,000 architects received the package, which offered the magazine for free and, for $25, an enlarged reproduction of the personalized cartoon. The package cost $39,000 ($15,000 in creative fees) and drew a 17 percent response; 300 architects ordered the cartoon.

Whereas Burdick found the response "gratifying," the cartoon's real purpose, he says, was to raise the profile of the magazine. "Restaurant and Hotel Design is an upscale magazine," he says. "We're concerned about its image."

Last year, Burdick's package contained a model reproduction of the legendary New York restaurant, Delmonico's; the previous year he mailed a "blueprint" of the magazine, which pulled an exceptional 42 percent response.

Such "freemiums" as the cartoon, he says, every so often will "ring the bellc with an unexpectedly large response. …

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