Commentary: The continued strength of direct mail for new B'way shows  Brian Mahoney. Shubert Ticketing Marketing Notes, 4/16/12 

Despite rumors to the contrary, direct mail continues to be an effective way for new shows to bring in early audiences. Through careful analysis of the direct mail campaigns for new Telecharge Broadway shows in 2011, we were able to pinpoint some of the characteristics of a successful campaign:

Get the word out early. Shows out earliest with their direct mail piece generally do better than those out later. In spring 2011, those that went out in January or early February returned more than those that went in March.
There's gold in the 'burbs! Nearly 60% of web/phone sales from direct mail came from the suburbs. Top shows enjoyed twice as many tickets sold from the suburbs as from NYC. This suggests weaknesses in Broadway's advertising to those outside NYC, and when we speak directly to suburban customers for a show they want at the right price, they respond.
Varied pricing doesn't mean confusion. Direct mail that included two different sets of prices did not see diminished return, and a higher price on weekends brought in more dollars. We've seen instances where increasing the discounted top price on a mailer and adding more pricing levels had a positive impact at all price points.
Mind your bottom line. Prices on direct mail may not need to be as low as has been previously thought. In spring 2011, the average price on direct mail for new shows was $73.68; by fall 2011, it jumped to $78.13, an increase of 6%. And this spring, we're seeing average prices in the mid-$80s for new Telecharge shows.

These findings aren't definitive, but they do raise some interesting questions about whether we're doing all we can to ensure the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns.


Commentary: Joffrey Ballet tries an unconventional direct mail campaign

Lewis Lazare, 4/10/12

After stints at the Chicago Loop Alliance. Lookingglass Theatre and Actors Theatre of Louisville, Brian Smith joined the Joffrey [Ballet] last summer as chief marketing officer. Because of his background working with groups known for pushing the new and unconventional, Smith wanted to bring some of that same sensibility to the Joffrey. [For their] new subscription brochure, Smith went outside the company's comfort zone and selected a photographer, Sean Williams, who had never worked in the dance realm. Perhaps Williams's most striking and -- at first glance -- bizarre image is a shot of dancers arrayed around a large industrial kitchen. Williams said the idea came from photographs he had seen of the Rat Pack [Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.] moving through various kitchens on the way to whatever party they might be attending. Why the Rat Pack? Well, one of the dances the Joffrey has on tap for next season is "Nine Sinatra Songs," choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Smith and Williams are hopeful it will help pique the curiosity of brochure recipients. Smith said he hasn't set unduly high goals for season ticket sales: "If we reach the 8,500 subscribers we got for this year, I will be happy." To get out the 150,000 subscription brochures he has printed, Smith isn't using one distribution conduit used in the past -- namely daily newspapers. "We want to be sure to get the brochures into people's hands, and we have found direct mail works best for that."


Commentary: The pros and cons of print vs. email newsletters

Katya Andresen, chief strategy officer of Network for Good, on her blog, 4/2/12

Do you have a print newsletter? An email one? Both? Should you keep one, both, neither? What if you want to re-purpose the print version for email? Or vice versa? Because we hear these questions so often, we created a free Guide on the topic. You can download it here. You will learn the pros and cons of print vs. email and the ins and outs of writing for paper vs. the web. And you'll get these tips on what should NOT be included in your email newsletters. [Here's an] excerpt on 7 things to avoid:

1. Letter from the Director. Honestly, these are often ghastly in print because they are typically full of jargon and behind-the-scenes minutiae, all of which is exactly the opposite of what works in email. If the director really loves writing that letter, then it's time to give him or her a blog.

2. Calendar of Events. If you have a full page calendar, you can put that online (try Google Calendar, for example), but you shouldn't try to email the whole calendar. Instead, highlight a few events and include a link to the full calendar.

3. Boring Photos. Group photos of your board, "big check" photos, and the like often make it into print newsletters, but waste precious space in email. Photos in email newsletters should be mission-oriented. A close-up shot of one person will beat a group shot 9 times out of 10.

4. Masthead. In a print newsletter, you'll often find complete contact information for the group, the board list, the staff who work on the newsletter, and the mission statement. While you should include your contact information in your e-newsletter, leave the rest on your website.

5. Long Articles. Articles in email are much shorter than those in print. Shoot for 250-500 words. If you need to go longer, include an excerpt in the email and have readers click over to your website to read the full article.

6. Big Display Ads. The majority of your email should be text, not images. That means those big full-page ads (or even half-page ads) that you include in your print newsletter, advertising everything from your own events to your sponsor's products and services, need to go.

7. Complicated Charts and Graphics. Email newsletters look different depending on which email program you are using to view them, making including charts and tables a crap shoot. Save those items as a single graphic file. Remember, they need to be smaller because you are working with less space, so make your graphics as simple as possible.


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For YCM readers in the United Kingdom...


Commentary: In the UK, change in Royal Mail pricing affects charities

Rich B, Webmart's Printing Brain blog, 3/26/12

Here are the main changes Royal Mail announced which affect the market. As of April 2nd, anything that's not stamped or put through a franking machine will be subject to VAT. Which won't be a problem for VAT-registered businesses but will be a cost for non-VAT registered businesses as this means they'll be immediately hit with a 20% increase in price. People who can't claim VAT back include charities and universities. There is a tariff coming out aimed specifically at people who can't claim VAT back called the Standard Tariff Letter VAT Exempt which will give a small discount on the price of a second class stamp and there will be no bulk discounts available. So a comparison needs to be done against other available tariffs (such as the advertising tariff) to ensure it's worth switching over to this tariff. The Transformation Scheme has been brought in to simplify the product range as there are so many schemes and tariffs currently available.The tariff changes are not blanket price changes so it's quite complicated to understand the impact the changes will have on individual mailings. Most prices will rise (surprise surprise!) however Royal Mail do expect some of their customers to be actually paying less, including Packet Post customers with mailings under certain weights who may experience a drop in price.

> We recently visited the Technology for Marketing and Advertising show at Earl's Court. Chief Webmarteer and MD Simon [Biltcliffe] took to the Direct Marketing stage and presented his 'A Hairy Yorkshireman on the Important Things in Direct Mail: Cool new stuff and saving money' presentation. If you missed it (or want to see it again) here's the presentation we did.

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