Buy This! No, get that! Maybe this and that -- if you can find them.

Fail: Creative

As a longtime customer of AT&T, it’s good to know that the company does not take my business for granted. This simple communication is respectful of that. It arrived in a plain window envelope, which is sure to get a high open rate among existing customers. After all, the recipient does not know if it is a bill, Change in Terms Notice, cross-sell, or perhaps a refund check. The body of the communication is simple and straightforward and avoids footnote overkill, saving the required fine print for disclosures. Nevertheless, the creative merits a Fail because:

• The call to action and response methods are buried in the body of the letter, making them hard to find.
• There is a description of features, but minimal focus on benefits of the bundled services.
• The close does not incite action or reinforce the call to action. Granted, this concept is designed as a soft up-sell, but the last paragraph or the P.S. could be used to remind the customer of the specific phone number or to visit the specific URL before the offer expiration date or at least “soon”.
• The P.S. does not tie to the body of the letter and has no call to action. Consumers who open mail typically read the P.S. first, before the body of the letter. But the P.S. does not mention the $67.99 telecom bundle – it mentions DIRECTV. A basic direct mail rule of thumb is that you cannot sell two things at once. Richard V Benson wrote this on page 2 of “Secrets of Direct Mail” more than 20 years ago, and he likely was not the first. But this letter tries to sell both a telecom bundle and a non-bundled TV service.

• The response channel is not aligned with the solicitation. The letter communicates a $67.99 per month package, but that is not the first thing found at the letter-specific URL. Also, there is no mention at all of DIRECTV on the landing page. (The phone number for DIRECTV service is in very small print on the back of the letter.)

Learnings: Make your call to action easy to find. Optimize use of your P.S. Do not sell more than one product or bundle in one letter. If you sell something in direct mail, ensure that your response channels are fully in sync with your solicitation to sell that product first before attempting to up-sell.

The letter also has an odd use of punctuation. For example, there are no periods at the end of the bulleted sentences, but there are periods separating the digits in the phone number 1.800.695.8242. This is the first I have seen this approach used in DM the United States -- and it is not used on any other communication from AT&T or even on the back of the letter. The en-dash is used a couple times to break a thought in a sentence, however there is no space before or after the dash. (However there is space around the dashes when listing call center availability times.)

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