I received a solo letter package from TurboTax on September 30 – a time when Halloween candy is on the shelves at the supermarket. This appears to me to be very early. I have yet to think about what I’m getting my wife for the holidays much less filing my 2015 taxes, but I’m only a focus group of one. On an overall marketing basis, is this a Fail for Timing or is this a smart way for Intuit to get ahead of the volume of holiday catalogs in the mail to reach out to and insulate customers for repeat purchase history?
Creatively, the solo mail package is clean. On the front envelope teaser, there is a clear call to action. The rear teaser has a reinforcement message with an implied savings offer. The inside letter communicates the TurboTax value proposition using several direct mail best practices: Johnson Box, bulleted clear call-outs of features and benefits, and a reinforced call to action. The accompanying brochure breaks down the products – differentiating them in a clear manner while reinforcing the overall and individual product propositions.
Em dashes are used in a few places in headline and body copy. These are often interruptive and can be a good replacement for a comma. But utilizing a triple-dash style with no space often gives the reader the feel of there being two sentences rather than a single broken sentence. Take this line adapted from the outer envelope rear teaser:
Get your biggest refund – guaranteed!
The use of the shorter en dash with spaces before and after creates a better visual flow compared to:
Get your biggest refund—guaranteed!
The latter may be closer to grammatical correctness, but this isn’t a college essay – it is a marketing communication.
The offer is nothing special. There is a vague “SAVE $10*” message in several places. The disclosure on the back of the brochure reads “* Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase 3/18/16.” That is not quite a compelling reason to make a purchase now, especially considering the fact that the money-back guarantee applies only within 60 days of purchase. If I make a purchase now, I will still be eating leftover Thanksgiving turkey when the guarantee expires. Not even Ned Flanders gets started on his taxes before the end of the year. The lack of a bona fide customer value for immediate action merits this a Fail for Offer.
Perhaps Intuit was trying to standardize the mailer and purchase process, but, in doing so, may have missed personalization opportunities. For example, I have used the Premier version of TurboTax every year for at least a decade. That would suggest that I have no interest in the Deluxe version this year, so about a quarter of the brochure’s content is irrelevant to me. Rather than explain a likely irrelevant lower tier product, perhaps the focus could have been on resale and upsale.
|Back of letter|
If you are going through the effort and expense to send a personalized solo mail package, consider having a personalized offer with personalized tracking such as a unique offer code or personalized URL, product recommendations based on prior purchases, and an offer that expires soon. This could allow the customer to not have to complete a long form when repurchasing your product online. Not only will this address the customer based on his/her purchase history and information, you have the opportunity to fully track customer interactions.
- Consider the Timing of your marketing communication relative to seasonal level of consumer interest as well as macro-marketing conditions.
- Direct mail may not be the best method to reach out to your existing customer base when there are lower-cost methods available.
- Consider how you use dashes in every sentence.
- Have an offer that compels immediate action.
- Use your database to personalize your marketing communications and customer interactions.