A Plum Offer You Can’t Resist

6 Oct

In a well-branded effort, American Express OPEN offers business prospects its Plum Card

In these trying economic times, small business owners are undoubtedly on the lookout for ways to save. Yet, when it comes to opening a business credit card, prospects also are wary of potential fine print and loopholes that may trip them up in the future. In today’s economic climate, a little transparency and an offer that does not seem “too good to be true” go a long way.

In its July mailing, sent to small business prospects, American Express OPEN used simple design and clear copy to showcase how its product can help businesses save. “Plum customers tend to be established businesses with larger revenues. A business needs to have a strong cash position in order to take advantage of the product,” says Courtney Goldstein, director of card acquisition for Plum Card.

The control mailing first went out in May 2008 and has been in the mailstream for more than a year. It arrives in a 8˝ x 5¾˝ white outer, with a metallic sticker in the return address block, designed to look like a tiny version of the Plum Card that the mailing offers. Inside are a one-page letter with terms on the back, a one-page application and a BRE (Archive code #544-172047-0907).

A collaborative effort between two of American Express’ agencies, Digitas and Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the mailing is branded with the American Express logo and general look and feel. Plum, or purple-colored, fonts and graphic design accents on the outer, letter and application form help establish the specific Plum Card’s brand as well. “The [Plum Card] product has a unique visual look and feel that we try to promote in every communication,” says Goldstein.

On the outer envelope, directly above the address window, sits a testimonial from Inc.com, Inc. magazine’s website, which delivers content geared toward small businesses and entrepreneurs. Goldstein says past research supports the use of such testimonials from respected sources on the outer because they add credibility to the marketing piece.

One of the highlights of the mailing is the offer itself and how the letter very successfully communicates that offer. Three subheads, each with a paragraph of explanation, point out these main benefits for those busy readers who may only skim the letter, “Pay Early and Save 1.5%,” “Or Take Up to 2 Months To Pay The Full Balance,” and “The Flexibility Your Business Needs.” Important copy including the telephone and online reply channels, and the added benefit, “no annual fee for the first year,” are all bolded to further stand out to the prospect.

At the top of the letter, a sample Plum Card is spot-glued onto the page, with a sticker repeating the three response channels—online, telephone or mail-in application. “We believe in offering channel response variety to accommodate different business owner preferences,” notes Goldstein, who describes American Express as having a holistic approach to response. It doesn’t look at mail in isolation, but looks at all channels—direct mail, print, online, telephone, face-to-face and TV—as working together.

The mail-in application form is just as clear and concise as the letter, with easy-to-read font and ample white space to fill in information. American Express OPEN even cleverly finds a way to repeatedly insert the words “You” and “Your” into the form. The form is broken down into section headings that make the prospect feel important: “You, Your Business, Your Employees, Your Billing Cycle, Your Signature.”

All three response channels are listed at the top of the mail-in application, and if the prospect does go online to the offer’s landing page, he’s greeted with the same look and feel as the mailing. “The online and mail applications mirror one another … We try to align messages and the look and feel to make sure it’s consistent with the product and specific offer,” Goldstein says.

While she cannot reveal the results of this mailing, Goldstein confirms that, as with most control packages, the piece is performing well among its target audience of high-revenue small businesses.

Originally published in the October 2009 issue of Inside Direct Mail.

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One Response to “A Plum Offer You Can’t Resist”

  1. Življenjsko zavarovanje 03.15.10 at 7:18 pm #

    I found your website on Yahoo and i like your content.

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