Your control package is the current package that you use in your acquisition mailings. It may contain a number of separate elements including an outer envelope, a letter, additional collateral like a brochure or catalog, a response device, and a reply envelope.
Many organizations continue to mail a successful control package for many years. That is a good practice as long as you keep testing it on a regular basis against new packages. In practice, this usually means splitting the lists of names that you are using. In this way, you will designate a certain percentage of them to receive the control and the remaining percentage to receive a new package.
When you get a new package that achieves a better response rate than your old control, the winner becomes your new control package. From there, the cycle starts all over again.
Even though this kind of testing is more expensive in the short run than just mailing your control package to all the recipients of each mailing, it is an essential step if you expect your organization to have a future. Otherwise, you would be stuck with nothing to turn to when your control package stops getting good returns. The money you invest in testing pays off in developing resources you will need to stay in business. Even packages that start off strong usually see their performance decline over the years so you can’t be complacent.
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