A lot has changed at Aria since my first day over 30 years ago. Applied Information Marketing or ‘AIM’ as it was known then, was one of the first call centers in the region. The calling lists, which were actually note cards at the time, were meticulously arranged in shoe boxes at the end of each shift. The work stations contained a pen and a tracking sheet and of course a telephone (with a cord on it.) Technology has improved the modern call center in ways we never could have predicted back in the ‘80s. Today, digital calling files, computer screens and intricate dialing equipment stand in for the manual list pieces and push-button phones. Nothing we do for clients today is done the same as it was ‘back in the day.’ Well, almost nothing…
I was going through my storage closet awhile back and found some samples of our first AriaCard appeals. A-6 envelopes hand addressed in blue ink were regaled with real 25-cent stamps from 1989! Inside, matching cards with a short note handwritten on the bottom held a check-size return envelope. If that sounds familiar, it should. The cards we first produced before some of you were born look virtually identical to the ones we still send today! And there’s a reason for this: they work!
After more tests than I can remember, to tweak, radically alter or even remove the key elements of these cards–the live first-class stamp, actually handwritten address block and note inside the card–the original AriaCard has proven remarkably resilient, consistently outperforming control mailings. Whether we hand write the entire piece or technologically produce the inside note while still hand addressing the outer envelope (AriaPlus), they grab people’s attention and evoke a response just like a wedding invitation or a card from a friend.
I’ve had some clients ask if cards produced by pen machines perform as well as AriaCards. I’ve never heard of a single instance where these appeals generated a higher response than AriaCards. And it makes sense. Imagine you are window shopping. Behind the glass is a real man in a tuxedo alongside a mannequin sporting the same suit. Which one sells that tux more convincingly? A similar dynamic is at play with our cards. Consequently, constituents open, read and respond to our cards more consistently than to any knock-off or piece of ‘junk mail.’
An ancient philosopher once said, ‘Handshakes, hugs and handwritten notes will never go out of style.’ Okay, I just made that up, but it’s still true! Some things don’t need fixing. Ask us how Aria can help you with your handwritten direct mail efforts.
Written by: Doug Scott