Talk About My Lawn, Not Your Seeds
For a company like the American Automobile Association (AAA), which offers its customers a myriad of emergency automotive services, it pays to sell benefits rather than features. That way, prospects ultimately can visualize how AAA will help them on the road, e.g., "a free battery boost for your son's friend's car."
Recently, AAA has conducted some subtle strategy tests with its direct mail acquisition and retention offers, according to the Who's Mailing What! Archive. In February, the association mailed its standard #10 carrier-envelope effortincluding a four-page letter, lift letter, one-page testimonial, order card with perforated temporary membership cards, a BRE and an insertwith one slight change: The benefits take precedence.
On its folded, 7-1/2" x 8-1/2" insert, AAA presents five features of its roadside-services offering: flat tire repair; gas delivery; towing; lockout service; and battery boosting. But unlike some efforts received by the Archive in late 2003, AAA positions its features in a way that forces recipients to take personal notice. In the top portion of the insert, quotes from lamenting drivers are presented; on the bottom portion, the benefits:
"Some of the cars in our carpool are in pretty bad shape." Translation: FREE Flat Tire Changes For Your Carpool.
"My best friend is constantly running out of gas." Translation: FREE Delivery Of Gas For Your Friend's Car.
"I'm always afraid my wife's older-model car will break down." Translation: FREE Tow For Your Older-Model Car.
Also, images of AAA personnel attending to customers' needs on the road are displayed so prospects can visualize how product features will benefit their lives.
In August 2003, however, AAA mailed virtually the same package with quite a different inserta folded, 7" x 8-1/2" insert with the headline: "ONE CALL TO AAA AND YOUR WORRIES ARE OVER." Down belowunlike the current insertAAA lists the features of its services, with the word "FREE" accompanying four-color images of a AAA technician performing various tasks. Copy reads:
AAA's Emergency Road Services For Members
You are covered in ANY car (not just your car), even if you are not the driver. ...
Tow to safety ... Change of flat tire ... Locked car service ... Mechanical first aid ... Battery boost ... Delivery of emergency gas ...
While the August insert is highly informative, it fails to make an intimate connection with prospective customers' travel worries. We can't predict whether or not the new insert will stick, but it certainly does provide prospects with a clearer picture of the benefit of AAA's services in common, real-life situations.