The Tie that Binds
Competition in the auto industry is as intense as ever, but by slashing prices and offering rock-bottom APRs, manufacturers have little left to differentiate themselves.
General Motors is counting on the relationships it has cultivated with its GM Card holders to drive sales. GM Card holders accrue points based on a percentage of their credit card purchases, which can then be redeemed and applied to the purchase of a new GM vehicle.
In May, an Archive correspondent received this mailing from General Motors' GM Card division that reminds him his earnings have bulked up, and that he could gain $300 in bonus earnings if he were to purchase a selected GM vehicle by the end of June. What's interesting about this promotion is its time of arrival. This charter card holder last redeemed his GM card points to buy a Chevrolet Tahoe in 1998. Based on an average 60-month finance agreement, GM knew his final car payment would be made in April 2003, which suggests the customer soon might be in the market for a new car.
The promotion is a full-color, 10" x 6-3/4" fold-out self-mailer with eight panels and a lip that folds over to seal it closed. The front panel features a 2003 Cadillac CTS moving at a high speed. Underneath the photo, a bold black font is used to shout out the bonus earnings offer with an added enticement: 0-percent APR financing on select car models.
The center panels are the guts of this mailing, and spell out the details of the bonus earnings offer. A small box resembling the shape of a credit card highlights the recipient's GM Card earnings through the previous month's billing cycle, the bonus earnings he can earn through June, and his total earnings; the text is laser-printed, denoting a variable text application used by GM to personalize this campaign. Also shown is a range of car models to which the recipient can apply his earnings; photos of the autos are presented on the back of the unfolded piece.
If this is not incentive enough, GM invites the customer to take a 24-hour test drive on any of the vehicles shown, by visiting a Web address to find a participating dealer.
Lest its first mailing be cast aside, GM Card followed up a month later with a similar, but smaller, 6-1/2" x 4-7/8", fold-out self-mailer that updated the card holder's GM Card earnings and reminded him of the bonus earnings deadline. In this effort, the call to action is a little stronger; GM even turns the earnings statement into a peel-off card that can be taken to the dealer to assist in beginning negotiations on the vehicle desired.
Interestingly, GM Card did not include the name of the dealer from which the card holder purchased his 1998 Tahoe. Disconnect between dealers and auto manufacturers, or strategic decision to not bother the customer with the contents of the GM database?
Lisa Yorgey Lester