Following the near-collapse of the financial system two years ago, the credit card marketplace looked like a pretty dismal place. Direct mail volume dropped, of course, a trend that's likely to continue for years. But to stand out, marketers have begun to roll out new cards, as well ramp up promotions for existing cards to specific demographic groups.
Women small business owners are the target of a recent offer for the Gold Card from American Express OPEN (Archive code #544-172047-1007B; go to our Who's Mailing What! Archive to order a PDF). At first glance, the package appears very similar to others mailed for OPEN: a 6" x 9-1/2" outer, a letter with a mock Gold Card spot-glued to it, and a airline ticket sleeve with faux boarding passes inside.
But this mailing also includes a two-page sheet nested after the letter. It spells out in greater detail the terms of the offer and the benefits of accepting it, some of which is likely to strike a chord with this audience. It claims that OPEN "is dedicated to serving women-owned small businesses."
Not only are the workings of its Membership Rewards points explained, but they're also backed up by a testimonial from a woman cardmember: "We typically use them for employee gift cards ... we can do something nice." There's also a paragraph with a strong push for the company's "Women's Business Initiative," a program providing resources and advice to businesswomen.
The offer by Amex for its Senior Gold Card doesn't offer much that's different from its standard Gold Card. It still flatters the customer for their "excellent financial record," waives the annual fee for the first year, and includes purchase protection and access to Gold Card events.
But it's how the mailing looks that's a little different. The type is a bit larger and darker than usual, with a little more leading between the sentences, so it's easier to read. A "senior discount" is the biggest selling point, a reduced membership fee that applies after the initial free year (Archive code #540-172047-1006A).
Chase also goes after the senior market with an offer for its AARP Visa (Archive code #541-171665-1007A). The clever teaser, "The card for people who weren't born yesterday" immediately gets the prospect's attention.
But it's the substantial brand value of the organization that's played up for all it's worth. This is an exclusive product, the member is told throughout the letter and supporting materials , "the only card program endorsed by AARP." Cardmember benefits like discounts, protection features and financial tools, are detailed with bullet-pointed copy. And as an incentive, the offer includes 10,000 bonus points that can be redeemed for $100 cash back after the first purchase with the card.
Paul Bobnak is the director of the Who's Mailing What! Archive, which houses the most complete library of direct mail. Go to www.whosmailingwhat.com, or call Kathy Kling at 800-777-8074 for a tour.