When reporting on trends within the financial services mail sector, the analysis invariably focuses on the status quo, or slight variations thereof. But not this time. In the last few months, the Who’s Mailing What! Archive has seen a number of atypical financial services offers. Here’s a look at a few of them.
Overall, American Express tends to lead the way when it comes to unusual financial services mailers. For example, in the last few months the Archive has seen the company send a slew of self-mailers, a number of freemiums and some uniquely positioned offers. One such effort that arrived in November was for its account protector program. The 5-1/4˝ x 7-1/4˝ self-mailer keeps the fine print to a minimum with three panels of information about the program, including length of coverage under different circumstances, program summary and a list of four reasons to enroll. It also includes a BRC that the respondent simply has to sign, fold, seal and send in order to enroll (Archive code #545-172047-0611).
In contrast, a more typical account protector mailing arrived from Chase that same month. This 4-1/4˝ x 9-1/2˝ envelope effort outlines the program in a one-page letter with detachable reply slip, BRE, and a page of fine print.
Because American Express is known for its standout mailings, it’s not at all surprising to see other mailers adopting AmEx’s ideas. One such effort arrived in November from RBS National Bank. The 4-1/4˝ x 7-3/4˝ envelope upgrade effort is very similar to the ones AmEx sends to its Platinum card members. Some of the similarities: an invitation theme; heavy, ivory cardstock for all components including the BRE; gold trim on all pieces including the outer envelope and reply device; and multipage letter printed in courier font (Archive code #540-701081-0611).
Discover Financial Services, on the other hand, probably wasn’t borrowing a page from anyone’s playbook when it designed the self-mailer the Archive received in November. The 5-1/4˝ x 10˝ effort doesn’t look unusual from the outside; in fact, it looks a bit like a glossy envelope. It opens, however, to reveal that the glossy outer is actually a pocket folder that is spot-glued on the leading edge and contains an application, BRE, sheet of fine print and an insert that outlines all of the card’s benefits. The top interior panel of the folder features a short letter from the company’s CEO that again outlines the benefits, which include 0 percent APR on purchases through the end of 2007; 3.9 percent APR on balance transfers through December 2010; a 5 percent cashback bonus on products in certain categories; and no annual fee (Archive code #540-174144-0611E).
Finally, Best Buy sought to drive credit card applications around the holidays with a very specific incentive: no interest until 2010 on home theater purchases of $999 or more. In addition to a coupon that outlines this offer and is required for redemption, the 5˝ x 7˝, four-panel self-mailer also includes a little freemium: a “wow list” where the recipient can write down all of the gifts he needs to buy for his family and friends (Archive code #539-477176-0611).
One to Watch: American Express and Hilton Hotels teamed up for this interesting friend-get-a-friend offer. Mailed to current AmEx Hilton HHonors card holders, this 6˝ x 9˝ self-mailer invites recipients to “Plan your next vacation with up to two free nights” on the front panel, and a promise of “up to 20,000 Hilton HHonors bonus points” on the address side (Archive code #550-172047-0611K).
The interior panels explain the program: Card members refer friends and family to a unique URL to apply for an AmEx Hilton credit card and then receive 5,000 HHonors points for each person who is approved, up to 20,000 points. How the card member distributes these unique URLs is the especially interesting part: They use the four postcards that are perfed to the self-mailer. Each card features a photo taken at a different Hilton resort around the world, with tags such as, “I’m giving you an ocean of possibilities” alongside a picture of a snorkeler in Cairns, Australia, and “I want you to have some peace and quiet” over an image of a beachside gazebo in Mahe Island, Seychelles.
To entice new applicants, the postcards also feature a special offer for them: 10,000 HHonors points the first time they use their card and 2,500 points for each of their first four Hilton hotel stays. Each card also features a unique ID required during the application process; this ID is how AmEx will identify the referring friend.