Publishing Panelists Tout Simple Packages For Gifts, Renewals

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NEW YORK -- Simplicity was a theme among panelists regarding successful gift subscription and renewal packages yesterday at a Fulfillment Management Association Inc. luncheon at the Grand Hyatt.

"Start with the premise that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line," said Barbara Eskin, consumer marketing director at Primedia Inc., New York.

She stressed keeping things simple and focusing on the analytical process of evaluating campaigns.

Eskin shared a story about a problem the Primedia publication Soap Opera Digest faced with getting consumers to pay for gift subscriptions they had ordered to the magazine. She said that pay up was in the 70 percent range when it should have been about 90 percent.

To resolve the problem, she said, Primedia thought about who Soap Opera Digest subscribers were and decided that they likely were people charmed by the idea of love and romance. The company offered a gift subscription premium of a box of chocolates to be sent for St. Valentine's Day 2002. It raised the pay up into the 80 percent range for gift subscriptions and was rolled out in 2003 to garner pay up in the 90 percent range.

Some very plain gift and renewal packages were touted as successes by another panelist in a presentation called, "How to Increase Response With a Small Budget."

"If there are any graphic designers in the room, they might want to cover their eyes before this next slide," said P.J. Uva, billing and renewals manager at G+J USA Publishing, New York, before showing attendees some simple gift and renewal packages his firm used for Parents and Child magazines.

His firm's offer of a subscription to Child magazine with a renewal of Parents magazine worked very well despite the plain-looking offer, he said. However, not all publishers have magazines with such affinity, he said. The offer produced thousands of new Child subscribers, high pay up rates and increased Parents renewal rates.

"Sometimes simple does sell," Uva said.

Tim Stephany, account director at fulfillment provider Communications Data Services Inc., Des Moines, IA, also was on the panel. It was moderated by Suzanne Ghosh, marketing director/account manager at NC Comm Advertising, Marketing and Multimedia, Fairfield, NJ.

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