Are Redbox and Hershey's reading my blog?

I posted about these two on May 8th - talking about how they both have freebie offers going at the same time this summer.

Today, I get this offer (above) via email - "Buy two bags of Hershey's candies and get a free Redbox DVD rental." Seems Redbox and Hershey's have joined forces. 

Do I have ESP for an inside scoop on what marketers are doing, or what?


Selling Auto Insurance The Hard Way ... Like Nationwide

It goes like this:
1) Send a direct mail package to people who don't have your coverage, like the one above, which I just received from Nationwide. (Getting people to switch is hard.)

2) Try to get me to switch without a "savings" message in the main headlines. 

As I said, getting people to switch their auto insurance is hard. BUT getting people to switch without a promise of how much they can save is even harder. So don't put any promises on the envelope. Don't even allude to the fact that I can save money by switching, like Nationwide.

After all, sometimes it's hard to quote an exact amount. So why bother? All the other auto insurance companies who say you can save say things like "drivers who switched saved $375 on average."* (Notice the "*" after the statement; it always has to be footnoted with the actual survey information, to back it up. If you don't have this kind of back-up documentation for a savings statement, you can't make one. Simple as that.) 

GEICO doesn't even have to quote a specific dollar amount for their savings promise. They just show a stack of bills with eyeballs on top of it, and say "this is the money you could be saving" if you switched to GEICO. We get it. Saving money motivates us. That's why people switch to GEICO. And you need to motivate people out of inertia if you want to get them to switch.

Ok, so ...
3) IF I happen to open the envelope, tell me I've been "4 GIVN," like the Nationwide mailing above. For what I've been forgiven, I don't know ... but since I was not born yesterday, I have a suspicion that you're talking about forgiving me for my bad driving record. After all, everyone knows that a bad driving record could drive up my insurance rates. 

The problem is ... I don't have a bad driving record. I, in fact, have a great driving record.  So you must be mailing to a lot of the wrong people and working with a bad list. I should be on the "good drivers" list. 

But back to the point of all this. Nationwide is trying to sell auto insurance the hard way ... so this is permissible. Nationwide, you are forgiven.

Oh, and 3a) Did I mention this mailing with it's message of forgiveness has a somewhat religious tone to it? Here's what Keywords, a blog has to say about that... and apparently this kit from Nationwide is not a new mailing. Someone got it back in February of this year. So it may be working if Nationwide is still mailing it now, in May. 

4) Make your call to action real small, like Nationwide did. Don't put the number to call big and bold on the piece. Like maybe at top of the letter or the bottom of that nice blue band on the left side. But leave lots of room for three local agents to list their names, addresses and phone numbers at the bottom. Maybe I'll call one of them. Or maybe not. I can't decide who to call. Forgive me for my indecision!

Life Comes at You Fast(R) - that's the Nationwide campaign slogan. And this mailing is going in the trash even faster. Better luck next time, Nationwide. At least with me. 


How To Differentiate Yourself From Your Competitor (Not)

If I didn't have a blog, these two pieces of mail would have gone straight into the trash.

But since I am a blogger, I find these two self-mailers worthy of a post for the same reason they would have gone in the trash ...

They're virtually alike. Oh, one has a red logo and the other has a yellow logo. And they both have different headlines. One has more phones on it than the other. And maybe I'd read that headline first. But the fact is, I read neither headline first. 

One of these companies already has my business and wants more of it. The other wants to win my business. Neither is going to get their way.

It's unfortunate that you don't know what your competition is going to mail until AFTER the fact. So you can't plan accordingly. It's like picking out a dress to wear to a special event and hoping no one else shows up in the same frock. 

In this case, though - I have to tell you - I've been seeing a ton of these black mailings with phones on them. Black self-mailers. Black postcards. Black envelopes. 

How very basic black these mailings are becoming. And boring.

Actually, I AM going to be in the market for a new cell phone soon. So maybe I'd better hang onto these ...

Or try T-Mobile!



Two Takes On Freebies: Redbox and Mars Chocolate

Redbox giveth and Redbox taketh away. 

Maybe you've seen their big red boxes outside your local grocery store, where you can rent DVD movies for just $1 (take that, Blockbuster and Comcast Pay Per View!). It's also where you can get FREE movie rentals every Monday of the week. Or should I say was ...

For quite some time now, on Monday mornings, Redbox would text message people who registered their cell phones online with a FREE Movie promotional code. The code was only good that day to save the normal $1 fee on your Monday rental. Well, yesterday, Redbox alerted their loyal customers, via the email shown above, that their FREE Movie Mondays rental promotion is ending on May 11th. But to be the good guys in this bad economy, Redbox is going to keep the promotion going through the summer, on a monthly basis (not weekly) starting on June 1st. How nice is that?

Actually, is there anything better than FREE? It's "the strongest word in the English language," according to many direct marketing professionals. And it sure makes for hard-to-resist offer copy when you can say, "FREE Trial Offer, no strings attached." 

In an About.com article, "Creating Powerful Promotional Marketing Coupons, Contests & Samples Drive Sales for Business," Darrell Zahorsky has this to say about the topic ...

"Do free samples work? Giving your product away for free may seem profit limiting but consider the case of Seth Godin. Godin released a book called 'The Idea Virus' in 2000. Unlike other authors, he did not charge for the book instead gave it away for free as an e-book. In less than 30 days over 400,000 copies were downloaded. This created a buzz about the book and even through free, people bought the hard cover; making the book #5 on the Amazon best seller list."

And Redbox isn't the only one who gets the power of free samples and is giving stuff away this summer ...

The Mars marketing team is running a FREE chocolate on Fridays promotion with their Real Chocolate Relief Act (and getting a little governmental on us with that name). They've even developed a graphic "seal" for this official business initiative. 

The Mars ad that ran in yesterday's USA Today says, "Every week through September, Mars is giving way 250,000 free* real chocolate coupons for your favorite Mars brands. Authentic chocolate made with 100% cocoa butter. Enjoy one on us today and, for more free* chocolate, visit realchocolate.com on Fridays." 

The promotion, per the ad's disclaimer, will run 5/8/09 through 9/25/09. (I'm checking the website now, and having trouble linking ... is it my browser or the Mars site?) 

A few months back, I wrote about Mars' Dove chocolatiers franchise. I'm extremely impressed with what the company is doing to move forward - in this economy, you'd think FREE samples might be a bad idea, but Mars is going gung-ho with the idea. You can read more about the Mars FREE chocolate Friday giveaways here.

And don't forget to get your freebies! (My favorite Mars brand: 3 Musketeers. Movie: the latest comedy will do!)

Thanks for stopping by