Activity Highlights: Financial Services
As everyone knows, there's less mail. The US. Postal Service projects a decline, from a high of 213 billion pieces of mail in 2006 all the way down to 170 billion for 2010. Financial services mail, of course, is the major reason for the big drop. Because of the global credit crunch, credit card companies are sending less mail, and same goes for banks and mortgage lenders. And it's not likely to change anytime soon, as a recent report from The Federal Reserve noted that nearly all major banks were not going to ease lending standards in the next year.
But some banks and credit card companies are trying to do new things in the mailstream—and seemingly acknowledge the mood that most prospects are in. ING Direct, for example, remains one of the more savvy mailers. It's small, orange-branded (as always) 4-1/4" x 6" postcard is probably one of least expensive but more effective mailers that Paul (archive direct of the Who's Mailing What! Archive) and I have seen in some time. Next to the outline of a house is the copy, "The Mortgage for Savers." And "5 years. 4.25% fixed rate (4.29% APR)" hovers above the famed orange ball and the mortgage program name, "Easy Orange." In other words, a strong offer, which is followed with unusually long, and therefore small, copy on the back of the postcard. This copy asks, "Want to own your house faster and save money along the way?" following that up with a "How it works" description that emphasizes free biweekly payments among other features. The call to action is only a URL (Archive code #535-640022-0906).
An even less common format was chosen by Citibank, which used a 6" x 9-1/4" self-mailer that arrives folded and spot-glued so the top panel only comes about halfway down the mailer. A huge teaser, "Your checking account is pointless," sits at top and underneath, copy notes that you can "Get up to 20,000 ThankYou Points when you open a Citibank regular checking account." Opening the top flap reveals a letter inside, which shows the prospect "how it works"; the bottom shows pictures of three rewards for certain point levels, such as a golf bag and airfare (Archive code #536-171691-0906B).
Bank of America uses a teaser that works as an envelope-opener: "Choose from two great cards." Inside, it has a rather busy-looking (okay, way too busy-looking!) single-page form that operates as both a letter and a "pre-qualified acceptance certificate." The letter portion tells prospects that they can choose between a "Platinum Plus Visa Card" and a "Platinum Plus Visa Card with WorldPoints rewards," the difference being the former is better for those "who care more about rate than rewards" and the latter is for those "who want to earn rewards with every purchase." It's very unusual to give the customer the choice of card features, so this acquisition may work. But with so much copy crammed on to one page, many may be turned off (Archive code #540-171918-0906A).
Lastly, oddly enough in this squeezed economic climate, Chase Manhattan Bank has chosen to introduce a new credit card for businesses: the Ink Business Card with Ultimate Rewards. The outside of the 6" x 9" outer puts the copy "ink." in cursive font and underneath it encourages prospects to"Make Your Mark." On the front and back of the outer, some details about the card are given, such as "no annual fee," "0% intro APR," "$50 cash back," "powerful business tools" and "rewards with no expiration."
Inside, several elements await, including a letter, application and fancy brochure. The letter comes with a RSVP code and very neatly introduces the prospect to the new card, including sections "What makes Ultimate Rewards right for your business?" (such as "flexibility to redeem for airline tickets the way you want") and "How can Ink help your business?" For example, the latter explains the business tools referred to on the outer: "Free cards for employees -- that earn you more rewards" next to the ability to "monitor employee spending and control expenses." The brochure, meanwhile, lays out the many benefits and illustrates, with a screen shot of the attractive Ink website, how easy it is to navigate the Ultimate Rewards website (Archive code #544-171665-0906B).