Steal This Direct Mail Format
Long-time direct mail experts tell us that if you want to know which direct mail offers and formats are working best, keep track of the direct mail you receive at home.
When you get the same, or similar, offer in the identical package format two or more times, it’s a good bet that this combination is performing well for the company mailing it.
In cases like this, the expert advice is to “steal smart.”
Receiving an identical package doesn’t mean the company has stopped testing other offers, formats, and copy. It just means the majority of its direct mail budget is being used to mail the successful package – the same package you received several weeks ago – and perhaps a few months ago.
This happened to me on Monday of this week when the familiar blue self-mailer arrived from Chase Bank. The bold headline on the front screams: “Get $200 on us. Details inside”
My biggest regret is that I’ve failed to save every one of these small, blue self-mailer packages I’ve received from Chase over the past 12 months. They arrive regularly. As far as I can tell, the only thing that changes is the dollar amount of the cash bonus shown on the front.
I received my first blue self-mailer promoting checking accounts from Chase in early November, 2009. The cash bonus on this piece was $100. I immediately described this unusual self-mailer in my November 19, 2009 blog available here. At the time, I was focused, not on the dollar amount of the bonus or the downsized format, but on the confusion created by the tipped-on cardboard gift card.
Obviously I was wrong in my assessment of the response value of the gift card idea as the presentation device remains the same. Direct mail experts call such a faux card an “involvement device” which is often very successful in boosting response.
My next blog on this blue self-mailer with bonus offer was a couple of months ago on September 30. “Chase Ups the Ante on New Checking Accounts” is the title and it focuses on the increased bonus amount of $200. You can read it here.
What’s most important at this time is that continuous testing over the past 12 months has demonstrated that the downsized blue self-mailer format with a cash bonus offer on the front is outperforming all the other tests conducted to date.
This is extremely valuable information for other banks and credit unions seeking inside information on the best direct mail formats and offer types. Chase doesn’t have to reveal what’s working best – this information can be gleaned by simply collecting and studying the various direct mail pieces arriving in your mail box day after day.
Unfortunately, if my mail box is any indication, very few banks and credit unions are spending money on marketing campaigns these days. These neat little blue self-mailers from Chase don’t have to fight their way through the financial mail clutter…there is no clutter. So, as far as I can tell, Chase pretty much owns the checking account direct mail market today – at least on the national level.
The great news about the success of the downsized self-mailer format with tipped-on card presents the smaller banks and credit unions with a conundrum.
On the one hand, they are aware of a very successful direct mail offer and format. Yet, on the other hand, in an effort to dramatically reduce marketing spending, they are reluctant to take advantage of this information by launching their own checking account direct mail campaigns using an identical format.
This brings up the old adage that “timing is everything.” Unfortunately, because of the struggling economy and earnings problems faced by a majority of banks and credit unions, news about this exciting new format arrives at the wrong time.
Still, for that lone bank or credit union that’s willing to jump on an opportunity, now might be the best time to test this new format.