Platinum shouldn’t smear or tear

Fail: Creative 

This 4-page closed face match mailing is similar to long-form direct mail solo packages used by American Express before the credit boom & bust. More recently, it was an offer to upgrade to the Platinum Card.

Conceptually, the creative style matches the American Express brand positioning – high end but not pretentious. This might have a basis on Control packages from the 1980’s for the basic Green Card. Each paragraph of the letter has a bold one sentence lead-in summarizing the paragraph below, with summary in the left column that is more tightly worded. This makes the letter scanable for easy understanding of product features and benefits. A prospective customer can learn details of the relevant benefits by reading the full length paragraphs. But make no mistake – this is a sales letter, complete with a signature and classic promotional Postscript.

So what is the ‘Fail’ here? The mini-brochure in the address area of the letter arrived torn, and the first page of the letter had vertical ink stains. This makes the presentation less compelling, especially when asking a consumer to forego $450 a year on your product.

From a production standpoint, closed face match mailings are more expensive to produce and require a high level of quality assurance compared to a direct mail package with a window envelope. After all, you wouldn’t want to open an envelope addressed to “Marc Davis” with salutation of “Dear Margerie Smith:” But quality assurance should not stop with matching the letter to the envelope – it includes all aspects of production at the lettershop.

Learning: Be sure the quality of production is as good as the rest of the effort put into your direct mail.

In addition, consider the hours you would have inbound telemarketing agents available relative to the product sales proposition. The response form mentions that salespeople are not available at off-peak times. Ironically, it appears just above a call-out for 24/7 Concierge Service. It may be cost-efficient in a vacuum, but does not having any salespeople available for customers on Sunday properly reflect the product or brand?

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