The Tale of Two Mailings

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This is going to be unfair. I received two different pieces of direct mail on the same day. And the impression they left could not have been more different. Yes, they were from different industries, for sure. But there’s no reason that they couldn’t both speak to me personally and create a positive experience.


Bank mailing

So here are the samples. The first was from a local bank. It was enclosed in a standard window envelope. Inside the package was a letter promoting their checking accounts. The call to action included receiving a $25 gift card to one of 30 merchants – while supplies last, of course. The offer included a very happy young woman who was obviously using her own gift card while on a lavish spending spree at one of those 30 merchants. Overall, the piece was professional and polished.


Resort Mailer

The second sample from an entertainment resort was housed in a corrugated box. Inside was another box with four color graphics printed on its entirety. When the box was opened, it revealed four wristbands snugly seated inside an inlaid tray. On the tray, under each wristband, was printed the name of each of my family members.

An Unfair Advantage?

I told you this wasn’t going to be fair. The second package was from Disney and it held the Magic Band passes for our upcoming trip to the Happiest Place on Earth in Orlando, Florida. How could a bank offer possibly compare to that designed by Disney? Disney capitalized on the data they had on me and my family and created a piece of communication based on where we were in the service journey. We were only days away from our trip. Could they have put the Bands in a plastic baggy and sent them to us in a nondescript padded pack? Sure, and they could have saved themselves a ton of money and coordination. That box was a gift. It sat on our counter as a anticipatory reminder of the fun we were going to have. They created an experience.

Are You Experienced?

You may say that Disney is in the business of creating an experience, but isn’t every business? If a customer has a good experience with a business, their likelihood of return or repurchase is greater, correct? Customers want to have experiences – relevant experiences. They don’t all have to be Disney-like, but they can no longer be generic. Alternatives for our attention are too plentiful and consumers are becoming acclimated to communications that are personalized to them, their interests, and where they are in the buying cycle.

Returning to the first example from the bank, it begs the question, “What can a bank do to create an experience around an offer for free checking?” In this case, I am using “experience” perhaps a little differently. If you are positioning yourself as a local-community-loving organization, does the experience of receiving this communication resonate with that message? Does any content reference your involvement with the recipient’s community based on their address? In this case, the offer references a gift card to popular nationwide restaurants and merchants. Why not use local organizations which would underscore their commitment to local communities? How about local organizations that they support or are involved in?

Are You Really Thinking About Your Data?

You may think I’m being too unfair here. What if I included one last fact… that the bank is actually MY bank? I am an existing customer. Perhaps this becomes a different discussion, one of deduping and data cleansing. However, it is still a question of how you can use data – even for prospects which you may know little more than their address – in a novel way to create an experience that underscores your brand promise. You don’t have to be Disney to create an experience, you just have to try a little harder.