The 'coin trick' may be old-fashioned, but still effective for driving response

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Remember when people used to mail direct mail packages with lots of stuff packed inside?

That was back in the good old days, before the economy went bust, and everyone panicked and started mailing little postcards, invoice mailers and fliers that all look alike.

One of my favorite old-fashioned direct mail package techniques was the "coin trick." You attach a penny or nickel to an insert and use a window envelope to let recipients see the coin inside. It's irresistible. Very few people can bring themselves to throw away a real coin.

I guess no one told The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society about the "new" economy because they just sent me a package with a coin trick. Specifically, they use a three-window envelope showing the mailing address, return address and a shiny nickel. The envelope features a photo of a young child holding a doll and a handwritten teaser that reads, "How can 5¢ save a child's life?"

If for no other reason, you have to open the envelope to retrieve the nickel. Once you're inside, you see personalized holiday address and gift labels, front and back on a single sheet. It feels weighty, thus valuable.

The top part features the nickel and a donation form asking you to return the nickel along with a generous gift to save the lives of children with blood cancer. It's personalized and mentions your home town. The center part shows a short, personalized letter tying the nickel to the message of how nickels can add up when you invest them in cancer research. The bottom part and the entire back of the sheet holds the address and gift labels.

The only other piece is the return envelope, so despite the weighty feel of the package, it's fairly economical. Will I keep the coin? Yes. Will I use the labels? Yes. Does it make me want to donate? Absolutely.

I would have never opened the envelope but for the nickel. That little coin trick, as old-fashioned as it might seem, can still work magic. Getting people to open your envelope is job one. At the very least, a shiny nickel will get the job done. l

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