Long­wood Gar­dens direct mail mem­ber­ship acqui­si­tion pack

Exhibited by
David W. Hazeltine
August 19, 2009
Medium of Communication
Direct mail.
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Environmental/animals, special interests.
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
March, 2008.

SOFII’s view

Colourful and creatively appealing, this package is also a textbook example of good direct mail acquisition practice. Any organisation that has a venue potential members can visit has a tangible advantage, and Longwood Gardens exploit this wisely and to the full, even inviting prospects to bring along a friend. Good stuff.

Creator / originator

Yellowfin Direct Marketing working with Longwood Gardens

Summary / objectives

Yellowfin created Longwood Gardens’ first-ever acquisition campaign in the spring of 2008. While Longwood already had 20,000 active Garden Passholders (members), their marketing team presented Yellowfin Direct Marketing with a challenging goal – double the membership over the next five years.


Longwood Gardens refers to their members as Passholders because their membership pass gives them free access to the Gardens 365 days of the year, whenever they want, plus many other well-defined benefits.

In order to get a good idea of who Longwood’s Passholders are, a thorough analysis of the active and lapsed Passholder files was undertaken, as well as deciding the geographic areas within which to mail.

Based on Yellowfin’s experience of membership acquisition by direct mail, we determined a reasonable goal for this first-time effort would be to acquire 2,000 new passholders.

Special characteristics

Working closely with Longwood’s team and the agency’s mailing list partner, the Yellowfin team selected more than 30 mailing lists, to enable them to achieve the desired 200,000-piece mail quantity. They then created the offer – four equal test splits, based on combinations of discount vs. full price, and either one or two free guest passes as a back-end premium. Furthermore, family-specific lists were separated out and targeted with a letter specifically written for them.

The 6” x 9” package featured a full-colour outer envelope, a four-page, full-colour letter, a full-colour brochure highlighting upcoming exhibits and events at the Gardens, a voucher for either one or two free guest passes with paid enrolment, and a personalised reply device. Additionally, Longwood asked Yellowfin to create a dedicated website – 2ways2enroll.com/longwood – to allow online responses. These would be 100 trackable as the site was not promoted anywhere else.

In addition to the initial mailing, the 2-, 3- and 4-time multi-buyers from the mailing lists were mailed a second hit of the package – three weeks after the initial mail drop.


The campaign was a complete success – just over 2,000 new Garden Passholders enrolled. A handful of the mailing lists pulled close to a two per cent response and the campaign turned a net profit within the first 60 days of response – a rarity these days in supporter acquisition. Additionally, the response to the 2ways2enroll.com dedicated website has been effective – giving prospects a choice in how to respond, and saving Longwood the time and cost of processing mail responses by hand.

The people at Longwood Gardens are delighted to find that they can cost-effectively recruit new members by direct mail. Results are now being analyzsd in detail, and plans are moving forward for the next two campaigns.


Cost–effective acquisition for an appealing organisation.