The Right Message in the Right Spot
The golden rule of direct mail: Know thy audience. You can have the best teaser, the most compelling letter, a once-in-a-lifetime offer, but if it doesn't resonate with your customer, it's just not going to work. "The real key," says Michael McCormick, vice president of strategy and creative at Mason & Geller, a full-service direct response agency in New York City, "is to prepare the [direct mail] package from the perspective of the recipient rather than the perspective of the client. We call it 'WII-FM, everyone's favorite radio station' (What's In It For Me)."
One company that tunes into that station is MBNA, as evidenced by its April mailing for the eBay Anything Points affinity card (541MBNACO0404CX). Even though many of MBNA's credit cards have the same featureslow APR, balance transfer, instant decision hotlineMBNA is able to make each offer unique to its customer base. From the first thing the reader seesthe carefully crafted outer envelopeto the lastthe message-driven BREMBNA has user-customization down to a science, making sure that the right message is in the right spot for every offer.
For the eBay affinity card, MBNA realizes that the opportunity to earn Anything Points is the real selling point for the eBay members the card is being offered to. MBNA gets straight to the point on the #10 outer envelope, using an expanded window on the front to show colorful images of the card and the recognizable Anything Points logo on the back.
Inside, the offer is all about Anything Points. The largest, boldest type in the letter quickly reminds the reader about the main feature of this credit card:
Spend $1.00 and earn 1 Point.
The letter plays on the customer's pre-existing relationship with eBay and stresses the rewards program, emphasizing that this offer was created for eBay members, by eBay members:
This brand new offer was developed with the eBay community! Through this new eBay card, every card purchase you makewhether on eBay, at your favorite restaurant, shopping mall, gas station, or movie theaterwill earn eBay Anything Points.
Graphics along the outer edge of the letter point out features that also might interest eBay members: 5.9 percent APR for purchases, no annual fee and around-the-clock fraud protection. But the letter makes it clear that the points are the main message.
A colorful, double-sided buckslip further emphasizes the benefits of the points program, outlining how simple it is to earn points, particularly from eBay's partners, who offer extra points for purchases or enrollment.
Because the letter and the buckslip need to really sell the Anything Points program, MBNA uses the other two pieces of the mailing to stress its own agenda. An attention card invites users to call a special toll-free number to receive on-the-spot application approval. And the back of the BRE features something we hadn't seen before this spring in the Archive: a message.
MBNA also used this sort of messaging on affinity offers for The Linux Fund and Prudential Financial in March. In all three mailings, the back flap of the BRE invites the reader to:
See How Easy It Is To Save ...
Pay off higher-rate bills; Consolidate accounts; Simplify your bill-paying.
Below the copy is a diagram of the balance transfer form that appears on the reply mechanism and an illustration of how to fill out the form in three simple steps.
In order to sell this eBay affinity card, MBNA needed to use most of the real
estate in this mailing to focus on what will really interest the customer: the Anything Points. But using the back of the BRE to sell the balance transfer option was an intriguing way to highlight the feature without detracting from the main message of the mailing. And as the last thing the customer sees before mailing in the application, this can be an incredibly effective tool for keeping the option of a balance transfer front of mind.