Analysis of a Proven Direct Mail Campaign: Omaha Steaks Control Mailing Part 1

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Welcome to my first post dedicated to studying “Grand Control” Mailings. A Grand Control is a successful direct mail  campaign that has been mailed unchanged for over 3 years, according to the Who’s Mailing What Archive. For more about this series and about Grand Controls, read this post.


Proven Direct Mail Campaign Study: Omaha Steaks 12 Burgers Free Offer

Omaha Steaks is such a fascinating company! Any company who can successfully sell something through the mail that you can buy at any corner grocery store is certainly worthy of study.


Outside Envelope Side 1:

 This is a classic example of "broadcasting the offer" right on the envelope. With such a great offer and excellent food photography, it's no mystery why they would choose to use this route as opposed to a blind "sneak up" approach.

Notice how the offer instantly creates curiosity. You think to yourself "this sounds too good to be true...but what if it is true?" Nobody wants throw away free food. Curiosity about the offer is enough to get the envelope opened, which is half the battle.


 Outside Envelope Side 2:

The offer is repeated on the other side of the envelope. Since they're broadcasting the offer on the other side, there's no point in hiding it on this side and taking the chance that someone might not see this compelling offer.

"To every address in your order" implies that the offer gets even better, and all they have to do is "Look inside for details".


Sales Letter Page 1:


There's NO headline: interesting, huh? Even more counter-intuitive, there's a LOGO at the top where the headline would normally be. Scandalous!

Notice this letter is going to existing customers. It's interesting to note that while Omaha Steaks could choose to market to their own clients via email, which would certainly be CHEAPER, perhaps they realize what a lot of smart companies do - just because email is "free" doesn't mean it's as effective as direct mail.

The font is Courier, the "typewriter" font. It's interesting that is "old fashioned" font like this is still so widely used by direct response companies, most likely because it WORKS. I won't venture to guess why.

The first 3 paragraphs are only made up of 4 sentences total. This makes for easy readership. Even though it's a 2-page sales letter, it looks easy to read at a glance.

The paragraphs are all indented by approximately 3/4 inches. This also makes the paragraphs look more readable at a glance.

The first 2 paragraphs use vivid, "warm" language. It's not about "food", it's a about the FEELING the food will give you. Its starts off talking about "winter blahs getting you down" and then immediately provides the solution - showing how to "spice up your life" with "hearty meals" and "get-togethers" "sizzling hot", etc.

I feel warm and fuzzy already 😉

The offer in the red Johnson box is positioned as a "bonus offer", although it's not free. It's offered "in addition" to the offer on the outside envelope. Interesting, considering the offer on the outside envelope (which is what made them open the envelope, no doubt) is a FREE offer, The "bonus offer" costs $109.00. However, when you consider that you get 32 pieces of meat, a lasagna that likely serves 4, and 4 potatoes to boot, $109 is a great price (oh, and I cannot forget that you also get 12 free burgers 🙂

The free burger offer is mentioned AFTER the "bonus offer" is mentioned. Most copywriters would be tempted to put the "lead offer" mentioned on the envelope as the first thing in the copy. Instead, this writer leads with the REAL offer - the one that makes Omaha Steaks money, but still sounds like a great deal to the consumer.

They say "just look at everything you get" not "just look at everything you receive". Nobody says "you receive", they say "you GET". Remember - write like you talk in casual conversation.

Notice what's in bold: the bonus (main) offer, the free offer and the call to action.


 Sales Letter Page 2:

It's not just a "price",  it's a "Best Customer Price" - gives the impression that the reader is getting a special price.

Handwritten "You save $35" in same ink color as the signature  - makes it look like Fred the Owner went to the trouble of marking up this letter himself in red ink.

They don't just get the bonus, they get the bonus for "every purchase address in your order" - puts the idea in their head that they're not just supposed to order ONE, they're supposed to order MULTIPLE boxes and have them shipped elsewhere. Does it work? You bet it does! Omaha Steaks does an excellent gift business. In fact, the first time I ever had Omaha Steaks was a gift sent to me from a client.

Strong Guarantee: No fine print.  No weasel clauses.

Multiple Ways to Order: call or order online. Plus there's an order form AND a reply mail envelope in the package. Makes it easy for people to give you money.

P.S. with a Deadline: Notice the specific "noon Central time". Why? No reason given for the deadline other than "great things don't last forever".

 So Why Is This Direct Mail Campaign So Successful?

It's painfully obvious to me that the #1 reason that this offer is so successful is the strength of THE OFFER. In fact, I often tell my clients that the #1 factor that will determine the success of any marketing campaign is the strength of the offer.

Ok, that's all for now on this post. But there's a LOT more to dive into with this particular campaign. I'll dive into the rest of what's in the envelope in the next post. In the meantime, please leave your comments below.