Grand Control Direct Mail Copywriting Series

Welcome to my newest segment about “Grand Control” direct mail pieces. So what is a Grand Control vs a Control? According to the Who’s Mailing What Archive:

Any mailing received by the Archive more than once is considered a Control. This means if the same mailing is received in two different months or more than once in one month it is flagged as a Control. A mailing becomes a Grand Control when it is received by the Archive mostly unchanged for a period of 3 or more years.

Importance of Controls/Grand Controls

Every mailing represents a source of inside marketing intelligence that someone has spent many thousands of dollars to test: the offer, format, creative and design approach, copy points and benefits, ordering mechanism and credit availability.

While most direct mail pieces change frequently, there are some that use the same copy, offers, package formats and designs.
Mailings flagged as Controls or Grand Controls can be assumed to be successful as they’ve been mailed over and over, and in the case of Grand Controls for 3 or more years. These are the mailings and offers that are most worthy studying.

As a copywriter, I’ve seen thousands of swipe files, “All Time Greatest Headline” cheat-sheets, and read all sorts of books and courses on the subject of copywriting But there’s always a nagging question sense of doubt in my mind when I look at any mail piece that is touted as a “proven winner”.

Just what exactly makes it “proven?” Says who?

The Who’s Mailing What Archive

The Who’s Mailing What Archive takes the doubt away. If you’re not familiar with the Who’s Mailing What Archive, you should be. As a serious student of direct response marketing, I can’t think of a more extensive resource of actual PROVEN mail pieces. For 18 years, these folks have been amassing a gigantic collection of over 240,000 direct mail pieces in nearly 200 categories. They keep track of how often each mail piece is mailed, giving them a first-hand view of proven winners. Bottom line, if a company “lives and dies” through the mail, as many direct response companies do, you can bet if they’re mailing the same piece over and over, it’s truly a proven winner.

So with that in mind, I’m devoting much of my attention on studying these Grand Control pieces and recording my observations for the benefit of anyone who reads this blog. So without any further ado, let’s dive in and see what we can learn from our first Grand Control Mailing…