Grand Control of the Month: FEMA
Two inches of water. According to a direct mail effort by FEMA that's been in the mail since 2008, that's all it takes to basically ruin your house, and therefore, your life, for a while at least. Fear of financial catastrophe is generated by this mailing, which is one of Who's Mailing What's newest Grand Controls.
The 6" x 9" outer envelope is totally blank but for a graph in the lower quadrant measuring out two inches, accompanied by the cryptic explanation: "It only takes this much." Even the name and logo of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the indicia and on the back flap doesn't tell the prospect what the mailing is about, but the letter explains it all. "You can't afford to be without flood insurance" reads a graphic in the Johnson Box, and the paragraphs that follow lay out the case that a flood, from whatever cause, means huge financial damage. "Costs rise faster than water", it warns. A slip perfed to the bottom of the letter repeats the call to action from the close: "contact your insurance agent", and also generates leads, providing contact information for local agents who write flood policies.
An insert heightens the fear of high financial cold water with a front photo showing a room with furniture, magazines, audio equipment, knitting, and much more ruined by those 2 inches of flooding. Inside, tags on the same photo identify the typical costs to deal with the disaster: "Baseboards $450 ... Flooring $7,900". And, it repeats a warning from the letter, "Homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding."
For an often-maligned federal agency with no direct financial benefit in promoting the sale of an insurance policy — it only offers policies from the National Flood Insurance Program as a last resort — FEMA certainly gets some of its direct mail right. Insurance marketers, utilities, and appliance manufacturers would do well to sound similar notes in warning customers of the worst case scenarios.