Amica, Allstate, Wal-Mart: Bad timing on car insurance mail

I received at home mailers for auto insurance last Friday, May 23, from three different insurers. This is a Fail for Timing, albeit an accidental one. What is not accidental is that the mail arrived close to a holiday weekend. Consumers are far less likely to read mail related to low-interest categories on the business day prior to or just after a major holiday. They are more focused on, well, the holiday – traveling, hosting, or just taking a couple days off from the rat race. This is not exactly a typical time to think about saving on your car insurance.

 The three packages I received vary in their approach. Amica uses a conventional solo mail letter, with an easy-to-read Johnson Box that appears through the envelope, an official-looking savings card that reinforces a call to action, a sidebar that summarizes the benefit, smooth flow, and good use of boldface subheads and underlines. The call to action is reinforced several times, with a message of exclusivity in the closing and signator. Finally, the letter includes a postscript that reinforces the call to action and benefit. And, just to top things off, a buckslip is included that communicates popularity along with a reinforcement of benefit and call to action. Richard Benson would be proud.


Not So Free Parking at Newark Airport

Solicitation email

This email offering a free day of parking is a Fail for Creative

The email subject line reads “Get 1 Day Free at EWR & JFK”. The content of the email also touts enjoying “1 day of free parking at Newark Liberty & JFK airports!” It is not until the reader prints the coupon that he or she discovers that the free day has strings attached. The customer must park at the airport for 3 or 5 days to obtain the benefit of the free day.

Coupons with conditions
Ideally, the headline of the email should include the contingency of the offer, i.e., “Get 1 Day Free at EWR & JFK when you park 5 days.” If not, then the body of the email should include an adequate disclosure or at least reference the contingency of the offer, i.e., “See coupon for details and conditions,” “Minimum parking stay required,” or a similar message. But, even in the fine print, this email does not include a mention of the minimum parking requirement.

When a business sends offers where the conditions are not clearly communicated, it not only degrades customer trust and brand equity, it is often a violation of Federal Trade Commission rules.

Lesson: When presenting an offer, communicate the requirements for your customers to benefit from the offer upfront and clearly.

Fine print - no mention of minimum parking requirement