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5 Best Practices for Financial Services Direct Mail


5 Best Practices for Financial Services Direct Mail

Marketing financial services is all about establishing, nurturing, and building lifetime relationships. Learn how to use direct mail to do all of those.

At its heart, marketing financial services is not about cold numbers, like interest rates, or minimum amounts needed for establishing an account. It’s about putting relationships first. Establishing relationships. Nurturing relationships. Building relationships for a lifetime. And with direct mail, you can do all of those things.

But how?

Let’s first of all acknowledge that the finance sector presents some challenges to marketers.

Depending on the vertical – investments, insurance, banking, credit cards – some companies may have to be extra careful about how they market their products and services. There are federal and state disclosure requirements and restrictions.

Another challenge is that financial institutions have to overcome no small amount of skepticism from consumers. The banking crisis during the Great Recession 10 years ago, and all of the pain it caused, is still fresh in many minds. The economic upheaval during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is very likely to shake the faith of many people in the financial system as much as their own worrisome finances.

With that as a backdrop, how can marketers use direct mail to reach prospects and create customers?

Here are some best practices to consider.

Top 5 best practices

#1: Sell benefits not features

This is a basic direct mail rule. When you’re making a case for someone to purchase your product or service, like a checking account, or life insurance policy, talk about how specific features provide a benefit to the consumer.

In other words, tell them what’s in it for them, both with short bullet points and longer sentences with more detail.

For example, “Monye-saving discounts for things like being a good driver, your car’s safety features, and more.”

GEICO direct mail

Also, don’t just tell prospects about your benefits – show them!

If you’re promoting a car loan, use a picture of a brand-new car. If you’re offering incentives like airline points or miles for your customers to use their debit or credit card, include images of exotic destinations they serve. As the old marketing saying goes, it’s selling the sizzle, not the steak.


#2: Use an emotional copy driver

We like to think that all of our decisions are guided by facts and figures, the cold numbers. That is not quite accurate however. The reality is that emotions are more powerful motivators to action.

There are seven main emotional drivers in marketing: fear, anger, guilt, salvation, flattery, exclusivity, and greed. Alone, or in combination, you can build a direct mail campaign by directly appealing to them in your copy.

For example: “Earn more interest on all your accounts with us!” (Greed). Or “Will your loved ones be able to pay their bills when you’re gone?” (Fear)

You have to be careful in not being too negative in your approach. Even if people need to take their financial status more seriously, frightening or depressing your target audience is not best. Instead, look for ways to relieve the stress or anxiety they may be feeling but offering concrete solutions that put them in control and more pleasantly disposed to take action.

For example, World Acceptance Corporation promoted a personal loan by including a circular: “Financial freedom is something to celebrate.” The content in this case gave to prospect tools and information to make them feel more confident in themselves and in their company.

World Acceptance Corporation direct mail

#3: Build credibility with your brand

As I mentioned before, customers are skeptical. They don’t want to hand their hard-earned money over to just anybody. So, your job is to answer: “Why should I trust you?”

More than any other industry, financial services providers rely on their reputation to survive. There are several ways you can communicate honesty, integrity, and stability in your mail.

For example, list names, logos, and ratings of any institutions that have endorsed your business. In recent years, reviews by Better Business Bureau, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and NerdWallet (among others) have all been leveraged by financial institutions in their marketing.

Personal stories and testimonials from customers add a less formal believability to the picture, while also creating an emotional connection. For example, a homeowner can relate how flood insurance allowed her family to recover more easily after a tragedy.

Geico-2021 direct mail

#4: Segment your data

Because data rules direct mail, you don’t have to mail to everyone. Using demographic and other data to personalize your campaigns is a low cost and fairly easy tactic to implement.

While following regulations governing its use, you can carefully segment the data you have to mail offers to specific segments of your customer base for additional products or services or ones that may better meet their needs than what they currently have.

geico direct mail example

#5: Help consumers comparison shop

Highlight your unique advantages over your competition. Draw a contrast between the products and services they offer versus your own.

Online-only startups, for example, tend to focus on speed in doing all business online and/or via an app. Besides lower overhead, this demonstrates their commitment to delivering a fast, easy customer experience. On the other hand, another institution with a significant brick and mortar presence can talk about their in-person customer service and advice.

Charts, bar graphs, and infographics can be utilized to demonstrate the differences in numbers like industry averages, interest rates, etc.

#6: Offer incentives

Let’s face it – everyone likes something for free, or at least a good deal. For decades, a physical item, like a kitchen appliance, was a typical gift for people opening a new bank account. Today, people are more motivated by cold, hard cash or rewards points deposited to their account.

USAA direct mail

Whatever you use to entice customers, don’t be at all shy. Use a big headline and image to showcase the reward, because if you don’t – your competition will.

Finding financial services mail in Who’s Mailing What!

Who’s Mailing What! includes 35,500+ mailpieces – full PDFs – in 7 finance subcategories:

  • banking
  • credit cards
  • financial services
  • insurance
  • insurance-auto
  • insurance-health/hospitalization
  • insurance-life

On the dashboard, you can conduct a quick search for individual financial marketer company names, or using a keyword or phrase search similar to Google Search. From the search page, you can filter your results to include either the main finance category or any of the individual subcategories listed above.

Final thoughts

Money woes are never far from the minds of most people, but especially so in troubling times. Your direct mail, then, can be an important and relevant tool to set yourself apart from your competition online as well as in the mailbox. Treat your prospects and customers not as numbers, but as people with dreams and hopes to be fulfilled with your help.

Direct Mail Evangelist

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Josh C. Manheimer

    June 1, 2020 at 8:06 am

    In my 30 years experience, insurance mailings do best when they look official with certificate borders and bald eagles, and don’t usually have free giveaways which would tend to undermine the seriousness of the offer. That said, Medicare insurance packages will break this convention and try to woo with all manner of freemiums and premiums — staying within the $15 limit set by the regs. (My favorite premium is to offer a subscription to a state magazine or get a state t-shirt: I LOVE NEW YORK!) In short, within the financial services genre, my clients have to navigate skillfully. What’s good for the goose, may not be good for the gander.

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