By Ray Schultz
Time magazine liked to flatter prospects in its direct mail pieces. The message was that only smart people read Time, and that you had to be in that category to even be asked to subscribe. And the flattery must have worked, because it appeared in many forms over the years, sometimes subtly, at other times boldly.
Take this letter sent in the fall of 1955. It was identified in an in-house note, posted over the letter, as a House List Copy Test. The note also included these tidbits:
Pick one Letter
Pick One Envelope
IBM Check Card
It’s not clear now why this direct mail prospecting test went to the house list—maybe the file was of Life and/or Fortune subscribers—or what the IBM Check Card was.
And we don’t know why someone wrote “’69” on the note. Can we conclude that this test did well, and that the letter was still being mailed in 1969? That’s doubtful, but no matter. Here it is: another engaging piece of direct mail copy from the wordsmiths at Time.
How would you like to be described? Pick one:
“The kind of person who reads comics.”
“The kind who reads business papers.”
“The kind who doesn’t read anything.”
“The kind who reads whodunits.”
“The kind who reads TIME.”
There’s nothing to be ashamed of in any of these characterizations — except the third. But I think that most people, if they had to be described in only one of those ways — would choose the final one.
Why? Because reading TIME has become a hallmark in the U.S. and throughout the world. It has come to mean that you are ambitious to know more, to earn more, to participate more actively in the “action and passion of our times.”
Reading TIME means that a man is “constructively discontented” – that he is anti-smug, that he doesn’t think he knows it all, that he is ,in short, young in mind and heart and spirit.
But how has this come about? Why is this magazine so widely approved and respected?
Because of the men and women who read TIME.
Because for more than thirty years these readers have been demanding standards so high that TIME has had to keep getting better and better.
Because these readers have shown their loyalty to TIME in the most eloquent possible way – by renewing their subscriptions year after year after year.
And finally, because of who these readers are. TIME’s subscribers are leaders of business, the professions and government. They are people active in clubs and civic organizations, people who travel a great deal, people of influence.
When you become a TIME reader, you join, for example:
–leading architects, who vote TIME their first-choice magazine … top engineers – who say TIME is their favorite publication … college deans who vote TIME their favorite magazine. And you join the most valued executive customers of U.S. industries – who say Time is the magazine they consider most important.
In short, wherever you find a group of men or women remarkable for high standards of achievement, TIME turns out to be the magazine they prefer.
You should be reading it too.
Bernhard M. Auer
P.S. The enclosed card offers you a special rate on an introductory subscription to TIME. If mailed at once, it can bring you TIME for less than nine cents a week delivered to your door.