Scott Lynch: Portfolio

Tuesday

Book-of-the-Month Club: Member Acquisition

The challenge: Book superstores (Barnes & Noble, Borders) and Amazon.com were hitting customers hard with messages about their vast "6 million books" selections. So how do you get a reader excited by 201 titles?


The solution: Pitch our relatively tiny selection as something welcome, intimate, exclusive: "Your own private little bookstore." The size of the package (a 5.5" x 6" self-mailer) and the homey illustration reinforced the concept. From there, the tie-in to our standard up-front offer--the "big sale" of 4 books for $1--was a natural. And on the inside I included numerous footers that read like "staff" recommendations of the sort you might receive at a small, independent, neighborhood shop.

The result: This package beat a long-time control by more than 15%.

Teen People Book Club: Catalog and Website

The challenge: Take a scalding-hot brand in the teen market—built on fashion, movies, music, trends, "issues" of the day, etc., all presented via celebrities and real teens—and expand it into the decidedly less sexy realm of reading.






The solution: I held auditions and hired teenagers from around the country for the Teen People Book Club Review Crew, "alpha teens" who became the face of the club, and whose reviews and other writings, left raw, complemented the professional copy. We also used real teens as our cover models, alternating with the celebs. And because we could do much cooler, more immediate stuff online than we could in print, the web site was fully integrated with the catalog, and featured horoscopes, contests, insta-polls, articles, e-cards and, especially, our "web-peeks", for which we repurposed book content into flash games or personality quizzes or mini-movies.
The result: A huge creative success, both with our customers and with the editors of the magazine, and in many ways the strategies of customer participation and the brand-integration of web and paper became the model for many other book clubs.

Quality Paperback Book Club: Member Acquistion

The challenge: In order to pre-qualify members, we wanted to inject some of the "QPB character" (irreverent, slightly subversive, pseudo-intellectual) into a direct mail package without losing response.

The solution: Focus groups had suggested that the core QPB member liked softcovers because they thought of books not as furniture, but as vehicles for the ideas therein. My copy platform, then, became the "books as brain food" metaphor, carried throughout the package. I also included many serendipitous self-referential touches that broke the wall between us and our prospect, rewarding the careful reader without getting in the way of the main message. On the outer envelope, for example, there's the small line, "Is it art... or mail?"As for the illustration style... I saw the artist Lisa Grubb painting outside the Met one day, and hired her for this job on the spot, knowing her bold style would not only stand out in the mailbox, but also speak to our prospect's fondness for cartoons, and hesitation to grow up.



The result: The package beat the long-time "offer-driven" control by more than 10%, and its members performed some 20% better on the backend.

Books of My Very Own: Member Acquisition

The challenge: Leverage the beloved characters from our books (which also push the parents' nostalgia buttons) without making it seem like we're selling videos, or a cheesy kids magazine.

The solution: Rather than simply plaster the package with characters and make them do all the work, I combined these familiar faces with the proven-winner message that surrounding your children with books is the only way they'll succeed in life.

The result: A more than 20% lift in response over the control, an increase that held its own in the backend as well.

Bookspan: Backlist Sales

The challenge: Revive sagging backlist sales without increasing the amount of catalog real estate we give to our older titles.

The solution: Reposition and give some immediacy to 100 backlist titles by putting them in a Top 10 Top 10 mini-catalog. To make it seem fresh, and to encourage browsing, I gave a voice to the piece in the little introduction that went with every list, and included some unexpected picks in each category—for example, a Richard Nixon biography in the "Most chilling moments" list, and the Ghosts Encyclopedia in the "Top 10 people we'd love to have over for dinner".



The result: A phenomenal lift in sales, generating nearly a half a million dollars in revenue. This became an annual enclosure, and inspired similar strategies in our other clubs.

Crafter's Choice: Member Acquisition

The challenge: Research suggested that there was a large segment of traditional crafters—knitters, quilters, sewers, candle- and soap-makers, etc.—who didn't feel comfortable being called "crafters", and couldn't identify with the usual look and feel of the market's generally middle-American, middle-income advertising.


The solution: An upscale self-mailer that spoke to the creative aspirations of these women (we didn't even use the Crafter's Choice name on the cover), and allowed them to bring this club under their brand umbrella.


The result: A lift of a little more than 10% over the control. More important: this package performed extremely well in high-end list environments which we had never been able to successfully penetrate.