Nextel Mails a Hybrid
At first glance, a recent self-mailer from cellular service provider Nextel to Northwest Airlines (NWA) WorldPerks members doesn't seem all that different from the scores of telecom efforts the Who's Mailing What! Archive receives each month (Archive code #808-400828-0505). The 6" x 10" self-mailer first greets the prospect with a simple--if not ubiquitous--teaser on the plain, white address panel: "Free Incoming Calls." The back panel, which is more brightly adorned with Nextel's signature yellow-and-black color palette,
repeats that teaser, adding that the recipient also will be entitled to "Faster Connections," a free phone and up to 7,000 WorldPerks miles. It also features images of four Nextel phones--pretty standard stuff.
But unfold this ordinary outer and you'll find something quite unexpected: Tucked into a sealed flap on the bottom half of the interior is a personalized, one-page, two-color letter.
Why go through the expense of adding a letter--and a personalized one at that, which means the added cost of a match mail--to a format originally designed to be cost-effective? Or conversely, why not just send an envelope package? The answer, explains Nextel media relations representative Melissa Chadwick, is that this self-mailer/letter combination offers the best of two worlds: "[It] allows us to illustrate the emotional benefits of the miles, while at the same time educating the customer on the benefits of Nextel."
The appeal to those emotional benefits begins on the top half of the interior with a headline that plays on the concept of connections:
Faster Connections to Your Next Destination. Receive up to 7,000 miles.
Below that header is a photo of an idyllic lake scene, complete with colorful fall foliage and a mountain range reaching into a clear blue sky. The photo is not captioned or identified, but the implication is clear: Just think of the wonderful places those 7,000 miles could take you.
Next to the image is another appeal--this time to the prospect's checkbook--outlining the features of two of Nextel's calling plans and the free phone associated with the offer.
The letter builds on the information presented throughout the self-mailer by reiterating the three main components of the offer--miles, free phone and free incoming calls--and making a clear call to action. However, the main focus of the piece, which is signed by representatives from both NWA and Nextel, clearly is to build a relationship between the airline and the telecom in the prospect's mind:
As a Northwest WorldPerks member, you're invited to enjoy an exclusive offer from Nextel. You've been specially selected to receive up to 7,000 miles when you purchase and activate a new Nextel phone, the smart phone for the smart traveler.
The play on words continues throughout the letter with such phrases as, "Get more distance out of your phone," and, "travel light with Nextel's smallest phone, the i830."
The connection (no pun intended) between Nextel and WorldPerks miles is further emphasized on a 2" x 3-1/2" card printed on that letter-bearing sealed flap. Personalized with the prospect's name, WorldPerks account number, and the location and telephone number of his nearest Nextel store, the card bears the NWA and Nextel logos, reiterates the offer and is bordered with a dashed line that screams, "Cut me out!"
Whether the prospect actually keeps this card or not, you can expect Nextel to hold on to this hybrid. According to Chadwick, the format "responds better than a traditional self-mailer in the majority of [our] direct mail campaigns."