Mailbag Review: How to Keep Customers Around

Ah, Spring! There’s no more snow, the birds are singing, and the trees are budding. It’s a time for a fresh start. But from two mailings that showed up in our review of March’s mail, a new beginning is not exactly welcome.

Disney Movie Club (Archive code #127-693842-1003) mailed a package to an expired club member requesting a second chance. Unlike its splashy acquisition efforts, the front of the #10 outer is simple. There are no colorful graphics, just some copy: “Cancellation Confirmation Enclosed. Please open at once for important information about your account.” The letter inside starts by noting that “We have received your cancellation request and have cancelled your membership.” Having acknowledged a clear and deliberate act, the letter continues, “we sincerely hope you will reconsider and come back to us.” The ex-member is flattered as one of “a special group of people who value wholesome family entertainment.” They are reminded of the benefits of their membership: stickers, postcards, exclusive deals, etc.

Finally, the offer is made: “Choose 4 Disney movies for just $1.99 each with free shipping!” Helpfully, there’s tri-fold insert opening to 11” x 8-½” inside with a selection of DVD covers and titles. From there, the “valued member” can respond by mail or online. This is, essentially, a stripped down version of its acquisition package, hitting on all of the reasons why the member joined in the first place, and planting a few seeds of doubt about the cancellation.

A mailing by MINI (Archive code #361-717514-1003) also attempts to keep a customer around, while using the cheeky humor typical of many of its advertising efforts.

In this case, a leasee is directed on the front of the 5-½” x 9” outer: “LET’S OPEN THIS ENVELOPE FIRST.” Inside, there’s a 5” x 8-½” booklet (“The Lease-End Guide”) that spends most of its 28 pages prodding the customer to “reflect on your motoring experience, evaluate your motoring skills and decide what you want to do next.” The choices come down to getting another MINI, keeping the current car, or ending the lease.

For the first option, the driver is advised to check out new cars online or at a dealership. For the the third, it’s all about creating a sense of ease. “Let’s make this as painless as possible,” reads the headline on one page, followed by a short list of instructions. There’s also a CD-shaped piece of plastic (“the ding-a-ma-bob”) spot-glued to another page, to allow the leasee to assess minor damage to the car before turning it in. But most of the guide is about getting the motorist to keep the auto, either by buying or re-leasing it.

An 8-page “Lease Workbook” insert asks the customer to start a scrapbook by pasting in a snapshot of the vehicle. There’s a map of the lower 48 U.S. states with checkboxes for all that have been visited in the MINI. And, there’s a checklist of accomplishments, such as “Got lost on purpose,” “Slept in your MINI” and “Let a dog ride shotgun.” This approach, humorously creating warm and fuzzy feelings about one’s car, is not likely to work for many auto brands. But like the Disney mailing, it uses the customer’s emotional identification with a unique product to keep them coming back for more.

Publish date: April 22, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT