Anatomy of a Control: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
The hospital opened its doors in 1963 and has since treated more than 20,000 children from all over the United States and 60 foreign countries. The criterion for admission is referral by a physician of a child with a newly diagnosed disease that had been under research at St. Jude. All costs are covered by the ALSAC.
Today, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has operating costs of nearly $1 million a day and an endowment approaching $1.5 billion. Let’s hear it for the good guys.
A highly efficient DM effort
I have monitored the direct mail efforts of this extraordinary institution for years. No glitz. No glamour. The mailing is made up of just four elements: (1) a black-and-white 4-inch-by-71⁄2-inch outer envelope; (2) a five-paragraph 7-inch-by-7-inch letter that doubles as an order form and is signed by Thomas’ daughter, Marlo; (3) a business reply envelope; and (4) a sheet of nonpersonalized stamps that feature artwork drawn by St. Jude patients.
According to Lori O’Brien, senior director of direct marketing cultivation at St. Jude, personalized stamps with children’s art have been used for the past two years.
As well as its simplicity, this effort is set apart by the use of old-fashioned, borax typefaces. The corner card on the outer envelope looks like something off an old mimeograph machine. Marlo’s letter is in a cruddy Courier font that nobody uses anymore, since the computer displaced the typewriter.
What’s going on?
“A letter should look like a letter,” the late copywriter Dick Benson said.
Prior to 1870, personal letters were written by hand with a pencil or a quill pen that was dipped in ink. In 1868 Christopher Latham Shoals received a patent for the first practical modern typewriter.
For nearly a century, the typical typewriter used a Courier or Elite font, which became the standard look for hand-created letters, reports, transcripts or manuscripts.