Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tales from the Little Red Truck: The Amazing Infiltrometer Letter

In the late 80's and all through the 90's, I was working with Ahron Katz at A-abc Appliance & AC in Dallas. Ahron was one of the pioneers of the service industry, and one of the first in our area to offer flat rate pricing, same day service and a 100% satisfaction guarantee -- as well as host of other unique and innovative marketing ideas. Our tagline, "The Company with the Little Red Trucks" was so effective at helping build our brand that marketing experts like Matt Michel started watching us very closely. Oh yeah, and it made us lots of money.

The best response we ever had to a sales letter was a 1994 promotion for the amazing new Infiltrometer. It was sent out to our HVAC Maintenance clients (Preferred Client Club Diamond Card holders).

The letter drew an amazing 36% response!

Of course, we were offering a very valuable, FREE service to a very hot, relatively small and trusting list, but it certainly raised the bar for all our future mailers, and led to my life-long frustration with never coming close to that number again!

The letter got us in the door and our salesmen/techs did the rest. We averaged over $1,000 for every FREE call we ran (we didn't run every call we set up, for various reasons). If only our list had been bigger! We only had about 400 Diamond members at the time.

The letter is included here and, as you can see, we didn't concern ourselves with keeping it short or "easy to read." In fact it broke a lot of other design "rules" too; it had an extremely long headline in sentence-case, it used a sans-serif font for the body of the letter, it made extensive use of underlining, bold and exclamation points and it was kind of cramped, especially on page 1.

Despite all that, the letter worked. It worked because the reader believed what we wrote and trusted us to deliver. A lot of that was due to the ongoing effort we made throughout all our marketing to promote Ahron as THE expert in the field. It was an extremely effective strategy and I'll write more about it in future posts.

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