Grand Control of the Month: SunTrust Mortgage
Remember the Jerry Maguire line "show me the money"? SunTrust Mortgage does so quite literally with an April mailing telling its customers exactly how much money they can save on their home loan. This one's been in the mail since at least February 2006, thereby qualifying it for Grand Control status (controls in the mail for three years or more).
Unlike many financial services offers, the SunTrust envelope is a plain #10 with only the company's name and logo in the corner card (see in Media Player at right; Archive code #535-400840-1004; go to our Who's Mailing What! Archive to order). No screaming teaser copy here. But then again, getting a letter from your mortgage company is probably enough to make you sit up and take notice anyway. The job of enticing the customer is left to the letter's Johnson Box: "Sign Up Now to Save $57,875.56!" The body of the letter explains about taking a "simple step": budgeting one's mortgage payments around paydays. This results in a mortgage paid off earlier than planned. So, this Equity Accelerator Program is first and foremost about saving money.
But it also represents something deeper, "that can alter the course of your life." "Now," the letter continues, "you can ... increase your ownership and achieve financial freedom much sooner!" To back up the claim, a small, pre-filled chart is included, with columns for "Your Current Monthly Payment," "Your New Payoff Schedule" and "Your Personal Financial Rewards." Here, the benefits become clear: "Simplified Budgeting!" and "$27,260.80 More Equity!" On the back of the letter is a more detailed breakdown of the customized proposal, showing the customer's existing monthly payment, equity and interest payments compared to the new program at benchmarks from 5 years up to 29 years.
Almost as an aside, the bank acknowledges that borrowers can always make extra payments on their own, "but many of our customers find this difficult to do consistently." Because some lack consistent discipline, using automatic electronic payments to achieve the same end is presented as easy and routine. To get the ball rolling, all the customer needs to do is choose how often to match their pay with their mortgage (weekly, bimonthly, etc.), and then respond by mail or phone. Unlike dealing with refinancing offers, which involve time, paperwork, other expenses and more than a little worry, this pitch seems tailor-fit to building on the trust between lender and borrower.