The AAA insurance offer I just received is a classic example of a winning direct mail design, with an important twist: it’s a fulfillment package. By that, I mean that it fulfills my request for a policy.
Only thing is, I didn’t request it.
If you’ve ever been concerned about getting insurance, procrastination is the obstacle. AAA’s direct mail effort overcomes that challenge. Why it works so well is that it presumes I want coverage. Like Radar knowing Col. Blake needs a pen before he asks for it.
I don’t need coverage. But there are a reliable percentage of people out there who really do want insurance, and this optimistic kit sets the table very nicely. Here’s how:
1. Trust: being a AAA member, I trust and use the company for roadside assistance, and a pretty much guaranteed 10% off any hotel bill.
2. The Envelope: unusual, but not weird. It’s big. AAA is paying USPS a significant postage premium for this over-sized envelope, but as in life, size counts. It’s kraft brown paper, portrait orientation, and has a “business forms” look about it with side zipper for opening.
3. The oversized label announces “HERE IS YOUR NEW POLICY KIT”. Yikes. What’s this?
4. The manifest: the label details five items inside, including a “Summary of Coverage” which one would infer is already in effect. Amongst other things, there is a “Thank You Gift”, again reinforcing the fait accompli.
5. DO NOT BEND: marketers can only say this if there is a legitimately unfoldable item within… like a sterling silver name plate… no, sorry, not really, but it does raise our hopes.
6. An OFFICIAL ELIGIBILITY LETTER: sounds a little pretentious. I would have dropped “LETTER”. But the title is followed by some computer-generated data dropped into pre-printed boxes.
Note the font. Institutional in appearance, it would warm the cockles of any actuary’s heart just to hear the buzz of an 80’s-era dot matrix printer ripping across the page as a cogged wheel advances the continuous form.
7. The terse opener: “This is to notify you”
8. The heads up: “What This Means To You:”
9. Three “No Risk” bullets: there are two kinds of risk in direct mail. The obvious one is, “getting ripped off”.
The not-so-obvious risk is the personal hassle that follows saying “yes”. This letter advises there will be no medical exam, no sending samples, and best of all, no sales person. So we can put the latex gloves away.
10. Your Next Steps: from here on, the letter simply instructs the reader how to apply. There are 5 steps, the last being a deadline date which will be reinforced throughout the kit.
11. Very important: the letter is signed by a titled officer of AAA Life Insurance. Unfortunately, I think the writer, Harold W Huffstetter, Jr. suspects that I am a nefarious check forger. If that is his actual signature, I cringe at the zeal and rabid discipline of his 4th grade teacher who taught him penmanship.
12. A personalized COVERAGE SELECTION CHART. (Not shown) There are oodles of legal hurdles that surround direct mail insurance marketing– the prospective insured can’t complain for lack of information. A close look offers a financial pat on the back for non-smokers, though.
Incidentally, dirt cheap prices start at 18 years of age. Do Millennials buy insurance? I doubt it, but it entices the Baby Boomer to look on.
13. A color-highlighted application form. Again, this form probably underwent a martyr’s gauntlet of legal reviews. I like it because it adds color to an other-wise bland package. And there’s appropriate spacing for names and addresses.
14. But note the QR code in the upper right corner. Could it be that I scan that and immediately apply online? Nope, and a good thing too. A distracting jump to a website at this point could kill the sale.
In fact, the QR code is for the data-entry folks at AAA. When scanned, it identifies me, and all the tracking detail attached to my record.
15. The SUMMARY OF COVERAGE is explicit. What is attractive on this piece is the table of contents on the front cover. This is a benefit piece, and again, is described in plain, low energy language.
16. My Thank You Gift. This is what everyone looks for in the kit. The unfoldable item. Here, the gift is a set of address labels.
You know, there is a future for address labels that extends beyond mailing your next bill payment.
Address labels find themselves on everything portable: cell phones, laptops, tablets, phone batteries, cameras, dog collars, staplers, strollers and DVDs. If it moves and it’s yours, it could use a label. Warren Buffet may label every freight car of BNSF Rail some day.
17. Lastly, a blue reply envelope with motherly reminders to sign and date your application and…AND… to affix your PERSONAL PROCESSING LABEL!
While you may think this is hokey, I bet you a dollar that AAA’s mail box is stuffed with reply envelopes that carry the label, regardless of its seeming irrelevance. Why? First, we don’t want to jinx our life karma. And second, we like to play with sticky things. Honest.
When reduced to ink on paper, insurance marketing is pretty staid, but consumer friendly. What it lacks in emotional appeal it makes up in trustworthiness, as this kit demonstrates. Most important, it didn’t try to sell; it assumed already that I was prepared to apply.
And that’s why it works.
Thanks for taking the time to get to here. Please pass this along to your direct mail friends. Thanks!