Direct mail faces greater competition and this year’s winner of the Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA) 2005 Package of the Year Award turned a twist on the image of the wolf. The package, called the Defenders of Wildlife Wolf Sponsorship Kit, showed friendly-looking animals.
“They appear, lovely,” said Linda Ferruzzi, Package of the Year Chair for the DMFA. “They look like wolves, but also had the feel of family dogs.”
The connection between designing an image to associate with a family feeling is a stretch, according to Ferruzzi, but “basically it’s a beautiful package with animals and wildlife.”
The entries this year haven’t shown major changes except for the presence of more greeting cards with up-front premiums. “People are constantly looking for other ways to get the viewer to open the package,” she said. The cards are combined with name labels or memo pads.”
More than 150 people in attendance voted for the Package of the Year, representing more than 25 organizations. Unlike previous years, the selecting group limited entries to one per organization. “The hope is to eventually have stronger packages than in the past,” Ferruzzi said.
A significant difference could come about because of the limitation. “We want to make sure to get the very best work and to give people time to view the entries,” she said. “In the past there were as many as 50 and that became hard to view all the entries.”
Besides giving the attendees enough time to read the display boards the DMFA scanned each package with results for a wordbook people used as a tool for the voting.
Members of the DMFA vote by the organization for the packages, according to Ken Peake, a DMFA board member. Members qualify to be a member of the DMFA by being either a marketer or vendor in the industry. Attendees at the luncheon mill about the ballroom sides to view the 24 entries and the decide on their choice.
“The perspective of vendor or marketer usually doesn’t come into play,” Peake said. “Most of the time the make-up of voters is balanced by the mixture of the two just as the make up of the board is balanced.”
One general new feel of the entries is the presence of more visual effects in four color and more commercially looking packages than before, according to Ferruzzi.
The acquisition package of the year and overall winner showed the image of sensitive animals in the Defenders of Wildlife Wolf Sponsorship Kit. The Defenders of Wildlife raised $157,000 through a response rate of 2.5 percent and a cost per thousand in the mail of $500. The effort drew an average gift of $21. The package now serves as the control for the organization.
The Renewal Package of the Year was awarded to the Directors Council of Friends package from the National Museum of the American Indian. The effort upgraded 120 donors to the $1,000 level. The campaign raised $172,512 with a cost per thousand in the mail of $1,563. The package drew a response rate of 1.1 percent with an average gift of $1,027.
The runner up for the renewal package was the St. Vincent Meals on Wheels for the entry Circle of Angels. The appeal upgraded donors to a $1,000 giving ladder by using a special recognition of people. The total income of $311,000 was raised with a cost per thousand in the mail of $5,743.17/M and an average gift of $980. The mailing drew a response rate of 14.58 percent.
The runner up in the acquisition was the PAL NoteCards mailing from the Police Athletic League, which displayed artwork from PAL children from a poetry contest. The results doubled the response rate of the PAL’s control package. The income of $22,851 came with a cost/M in the mail of $559 per thousand through a response rate of 1.29 percent and average gift of $17.71.
Jo Sullivan, incoming president of the DMFA, talked about the trends. “Effectiveness depends on the target,” she said. “After the donor starts giving, we have to find more involved ways to keep them.”
One trend, according to George Whelan, a member of the Package of the Year Committee, is this year’s emphasis on the performance. “Marketers are looking for the response rates, average gifts, and net revenue,” he said. Board member Bette Craig noticed a general decline in the number of premiums. “Premiums cost money so I imagine people are doing as well without them,” she said. “The best use of premiums is whether they are really tied to the mission.”
Gary Weinberg, board member and sponsor of the event, pointed out that fancier packages can mean more aggressive but expensive efforts. Yet these efforts on the acquisition side can bring returns later.
Weinberg is president of Quality Letter Service Inc., in New York City, the creator of the Whitestone Community Volunteer Ambulance Service, which entered a renewal package that stressed the donor as part of the community. The package drew a 52 percent response rate.
One of the curious entries, according to attendee Theodore B. Maxon, was the Emergency in Darfur Self-Mailer from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Canada. Moxon is senior account executive of Yellowfin Direct Marketing Inc., based in Philadelphia.
“The cost was so little even though there was a small response, yet this is really attractive because of the low cost,” he said. “But this wasn’t really direct mail since it was an insert in a paper. It would be interesting to see where it was placed in the paper.”
The package cost per thousand in the mail was $137 that drew a response of .23 percent with an average gift of $88.56.
Creative people are always trying to come up with new ideas, but one direct mail maxim is facing an obstacle, according to Jorge Carballo a member of the Package of the Year Committee. “We want to be personalized, but now the jury is stalled out with how the post office will treat that because of the aspect of paying first class,” he said.
The DMFA recognizes the obstacles faced by members, according to Sullivan. “We’re going to do some exciting things next year,” she said. “We’re going to ask membership about how to direct our content so members will get relevant information for their everyday work so they can take their organizations to the next level.”