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Selling business banking.

Like "the little black dress," the simple one-page letter is the staple of direct marketing; but Webster Bank (Connecticut) does not take full advantage of the format because of their banking-centric approach to the letter copy.

(1) Johnson's Box: When the reader opens up the envelope and takes out this letter, their eyes will focus on the headline in the upper right. But like the rest of the letter, the choice of words focuses on the bank and not the consumer's needs. Better to have said something like, "Want to help your business succeed?"... "Ready to take your business to the next level?"... or, "The tools to help your business succeed"

(2) Prospect Name: Business mailing lists usually come with a person's name attached to the record. While it is slightly more expensive and frequently changing, having a current name would make the piece that much more personal.

(3) Opening Paragraph: This is where you must grab the reader's attention by answering the question "What's in it for me?" But instead, the bank focuses on their great "Certified Business Bankers."

(4) Subheads: When the prospect first picked up the letter, they would usually look at the top headline and then scan the letter, reading the subheads to see if the letter is "worth reading." These subheads are too long and could be shortened to something like: "Great Business Checking Choices" and "Maximizing Your Cash Flow."

(5) Call to Action: If the letter had convinced the business owner to take a next step, they only offer the option of calling or coming into the branch. Why not give them a website to review and an email address (which is in the signature block) to use and make it more personal with a "contact me"?

(6) Signer: Here, they do something right. The bank uses a variable look up table to plug in the signature, name and contact information for the local branch manager.

Overall, this mailing piece misses the mark based on the bank focusing on themselves rather than the targeted business owner's needs.

For previous columns and other tips, visit Have a proposed direct mail letter you would like The Letter Clinic to evaluate in the magazine? Send to George Wachtel, c/o ABA Bank Marketing and Sales magazine, 1120 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20036-3971. E-mail:

GEORGE WACHTEL is chairman of WordCom Inc., Ellington, Conn., a target marketing company specializing in the financial industry. E-mail:

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Title Annotation:THE LETTER CLINIC
Author:Wachtel, George
Publication:ABA Bank Marketing
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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