ING Takes Its Tease a Little Farther
ING DIRECT is not like most banks. Aside from its very unbank-like orange ball logo and its claim that it can earn customers more interest than other banksfour times the national average to be exactING differentiates itself in one other major way: It doesn't actually have any branches. All of ING's banking is done online, over the phone and by mail; its only brick-and-mortar manifestation is in four ING DIRECT Cafés located in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles and in its headquarters in Wilmington, Del. But while these Internet-ready coffee shops may be the only physical connection customers have to the bank, its direct mail efforts offer prospects something that seems very tangible: a check.
ING has been mailing prospects a $25 check as a demonstration of its offer to start FDIC-insured Orange Savings Accounts with $25 since the summer of 2001. And, since September 2003, the control format for this acquisition effort has been a white, #10 envelope with a standard-sized address window. (Inside Direct Mail reported on this package right after it made its first appearance in the Who's Mailing What! Archive; see "The Check Is in the Mail," December 2003.) Showing through the window are the words "Pay to addressee or bearer" and the recipient's name and address, on top of repeating white-and-orange fine print that reads, "Bonus Check" (Archive code #536-640022-0505B). This minimal copy is enough to tease prospects that a check is enclosed. But recently, the Archive has seen a new version of this check tactic that takes the tease a few inches farther (Archive code #536-640022-0505A).
This effort, which first popped up in the Archive in September 2004, also is a white, #10 envelope. The face of the envelope features ING's familiar navy-and-orange color palette; its lion logo and return address in the upper left-hand corner; and just a few lines of teaser copy:
Time to buy yourself a bigger wallet.
Now your savings can earn 4x the national average.
But the focal point of the envelope is its oversized 7-1/2" x 1-1/2" window, which reveals not just the recipient's name and address and "Pay to addressee or bearer" copy, but also the dollar box and amount line. Also new to this format is the check's background; the orange-and-white fine print of the control check has been replaced with a more financial blue-and-white pinstripe background with the ING DIRECT lion logo shaded in the background. The result is a very real-looking check on display in the prospect's mailbox.
Inside the envelope, prospects find that this check is the top portion of an 8-1/2" x 15-3/4" sheet. Below the check is a brief letter from the bank's chief customer service officer, a chart illustrating how a deposit of $10,000 at ING will earn more than four times the national average over the course of a year, and a toll-free phone number and URL as alternate response channels. Below the letter is an "Orange Savings Account Activation Form," which instructs prospects to mail in their $25 check along with their application.
ING's use of a check to give its premium a tangible quality is an interesting tactic not often employed within the bank services sector, even though it seems a natural fit. Bank One has mailed a similar format; its version is a #10 envelope with two windows that reveal the "Payable to" and amount portions of a blue-and-gray striped check. When Chase acquired Bank One, it picked up this format as well, mailing it under both the Bank One and Chase brands this past April.
While a representative from ING DIRECT was not available to speak to the effectiveness of this check mailing, that the Archive has been receiving it steadily for almost a year now tells us this tactic likely is money in the bank for ING.