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Mailbox Monday

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It's a new year. It's a new decade. But, some things don't change. We still receive unsolicited direct mail. Some of it is of interest. Some of it is not. But, it arrives just the same.

We were recently struck by the extremely oversized dimensions of a package from Fisher Investments. The outer envelope, which reads vertically — an unusual choice in its own right — measures 11" x 13.75". If the goal was to stand out, the generous size certainly fulfilled it. Unfortunately, it also meant that the piece was mangled somewhere along the line, and folded in half by the letter carrier.

Uh-oh.

A "handwritten" teaser (although clearly printed on, the art does seem to be done by hand rather than some faux handwriting font — props there) reads "The Favor of Your Reply is Requested!" The outbound and return addresses, along with the indicia, are printed within a slim gold border, approximating a label. Fisher Investments appears up the lefthand side in a clear varnish.

Inside is a two-page letter that reads like a flashback to some of the famous control packages from the Mad Men agency era. The letterhead, like the OE, is oversized: 9.25" x 12.25". A subtle Johnson box (in a handwriting font this time) reads "I'm guessing congratulations are in order."

The letter explains, in long-form, very one-to-one copy, that acculumating $500,000 in investments is a significant accomplishment and entitles the recipient to an "exclusive" offer of Fisher Investments' Retirement Survival Kit. Copy continues with a bulleted list of the three reports in the Survival Kit. It then goes on to introduce the letter's author Ken Fisher (Executive Chairman and Co-Chief Investment Officer) and builds credibility by listing the publications to which he has contributed. So far, so good.

The next several (short) paragraphs were a bit of a surprise. Mr. Fisher explains that if the prospect requests the Kit and agrees with it, he or she can do nothing. Or, they can choose to do business with Fisher. It's all very friendly and pressure-free. Then, he proposes that if the person requests and receives the Kit and doesn't find it "both useful and profitable, so what?" In other words, there's no risk. And, the very fact that he's saying you might not find the offer valuable is disarming (in a good way).

At the bottom of the letter, there's a personalized "quick Confidential Request Form that should take no more than 20 seconds of your time." There's a perfed receipt that the recipient can save after filling in and returning the form. The final component in the package is a BRE.

There are several things we'd like to "tweak" here. There's no P.S., which seems a missed opportunity. The copy could be broken up with more bulleted lists or other eye-catching formatting that would accommodate different browsing styles. And, although we appreciate the large format, it might have arrived in better condition if the stock were heavier or some other intrusive delivery device were used.

That said, the copy is very good — good in that old-school direct mail style that we grew up with and cut our teeth on. In fact, it was downright refreshing.

For taking a bit of a risk and relying on a compelling personal letter rather than all the bells and whistles creative teams (including ours) like to work with, we give this package a (bigger than average) thumbs up.

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