If you want to offer just enough information on an outer envelope to tantalize the prospect into opening it, it's hard to find a better example to emulate than the most recent effort by AAA to become a Grand Control (a control in the mail for three or more years). But then, it's just part of an overall approach that's worked very well for the auto club; indeed, this is its 15th membership mailing to reach this hallowed status (Archive code #525-182432-1009). Although this particular acquisition campaign was mailed for AAA Mid-Atlantic, the largest of the dozens of regional clubs that make up the association, near-identical mailings have been used for the other AAAs.
The #10 carrier is rather plain (see image in mediaplayer at right), bearing only the AAA logo and a notice: "Membership Registration Enclosed." But given its heft, one would suppose that there has to be more than a mere application form inside, and, sure enough, there is. The four-page letter starts off informing the prospect (in the Johnson box) that they are pre-registered for "immediate membership in AAA." Although it initially plays on fear by raising concerns that the roadside assistance benefits of membership may be needed right away, it moves into covering all of the other benefits. Handwritten notes in the margin (a classic technique) are used sparingly to call attention to them. For example, "Better trips" accompanies a paragraph about AAA's maps and guides.
To jump back a bit, the first piece greeting the reader upon opening is the order card, with "Welcome to AAA!" greeting across the top. Besides reminding the prospect of the offer with a check-pointed short list, the biggest advantage of this component is that the two perforated "Temporary Membership" cards on it are classic "hot potatoes" — they force one right away to treat them as they are billed, as real deal membership cards.
A four-page brochure, the "Quickstart Guide for New Members," also trades in on the comfort and convenience of the AAA brand. It devotes a full page to the coverage of various car problems (e.g. "FREE: tire change" along with pictures and descriptions of typical scenarios). Additional pages highlight the association's discounts, as well as financial and automotive services.
To back up the offer are a bevy of elements. There's a lift note (a reminder from the membership director about the value of "pre-registration"); a testimonial from another "temporary card" member; a metallic silver bumper sticker, which offers reassurance of the immediacy of coverage; and a BRE that includes another incentive on its bangtail: a $5 discount (with peel-off sticker) for paying by credit card and simultaneously signing up for automatic renewal.
Altogether, the offer and a number of well-worn (but proven) direct mail techniques result in a mailing that makes it nearly irresistible for a prospect to say no.