MOT – My One Tweak (or two)…
If you are of a certain age you may remember what cars were like before they went all electronic.
Adjust the choke. Push on the accelerator but not so much you flood the engine. Burn your biceps as you turn the heavy steering wheel onto full lock.
None of that these days. Electronics everywhere.
I have one of those computers which does just about everything except drive the vehicle… and before too long most cars will be doing even that for us.
Driving by dashboard.
When the tyre pressure is low – a warning light comes on.
When an oil change is required – a warning light comes on.
When the car is due a service – a warning light comes on.
When I fall asleep at the wheel – a warning light comes on.
That last one I just made up… but some cars do have a monitor which emits a piercing buzz if your eyes drift away from the road (handy if you tend to drive long hours without the proper rest… and better if you take more regular breaks, by the way).
So, it was refreshing to be sent an alert the other day… by a letter in the post.
It was from an independent garage which specialises in servicing my make of car.
Would This Letter Make You Take Action?
From a marketing point of view, the fact they sent me a letter is a good sign. It suggests they understand the importance of keeping in touch with their customers.
Here’s what they wrote (some details changed for confidentiality):
“Dear Gary Spinks
We note from our records that the MOT/Service on the above vehicle is almost due.
MOT’s can be carried out up to one month before they are actually due, and any days left on the old certificate can be added to your new one, so you don’t lose any days. Please bring your old certificate with you.
Bringing your vehicle in early for it’s MOT is a good idea as it enables us to check and advise in advance if any work is needed for it to pass.
If you would like to telephone us on 01707 424424 we shall be pleased to book it in at your convenience.
Fred & Stephen”
What do you think?
As a letter it’s OK. However, it sounds too formal and there’s a grammatical error with “it’s” – which should be the possessive “its”.
It could also be MUCH stronger.
A More Persuasive Approach
Here’s how it could be written differently (with some details changed for confidentiality):
MOT for Your BMW Registration BZ441TH
It’s fast approaching that time of year again – your car’s MOT is due on 10th October.
Let us take care of this for you so you can relax for another year – and enjoy your BMW to the full.
One quick phone call today and we can book you in when it most suits you.
You may not know this but MOT’s can be carried out up to ONE MONTH before they are due. Bring in your car now and any days left on the old certificate will be added to your new one. You won’t lose any days.
Getting in early is the sign of a smart-thinking driver. It allows us to check your pride and joy and let you know in advance if any work is needed to pass the MOT.
And because we’re independent BMW specialists – you get a superior standard of care BUT pay significantly less than if you went to a main dealer.
To book your car in, simply give me or Stephen a call on 01707 424424.
Why not do it now while it’s still fresh in your mind?
P.S. IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember to bring your old MOT certificate with you. To book your BMW in now, call me or Stephen on 01707 424424.”
Do you see the difference?
Here Are The Changes In The Letter
The second version uses the customer’s first name… the customer is a regular and the guys there always call him by his first name. So be consistent. And use a less formal opening if it’s appropriate.
There’s a heading in bold – which instantly tells the customer what the letter is about.
It’s more conversational. Drivers know the MOT is an annual check. It’s a nuisance but has to be done.
The due date is in bold to highlight how close it is.
The garage displays confidence and makes the whole process sound effortless. Nothing to worry about. Everything taken care of. Leave it with us. Your car is safe in our hands.
The customer may not be aware of the one-month rule. They may leave it to the last minute because they fear they will lose the days left on their current certificate. They worry they will be short-changed or penalised if they book an early MOT.
This letter allays those fears. (To be fair, the original does as well).
There’s an assumption the customer is a smart-thinking driver. A bit of indirect flattery. Flattery works. It makes people feel good about themselves.
The car owner is given a reason to choose this garage – high quality at lower price than the main dealers charge.
There’s a clear call to action – ring the garage to book the MOT – and the number is made clear in bold.
The letter refers to the make of the customer’s car rather than the generic and formal ‘vehicle’. Who calls their car a vehicle? The garage would have this detail on its database and can easily use merge fields to insert this information in the right parts of the message.
It adds a more personal touch.
There is a REMINDER to take action now. Some people read a letter, put it down somewhere and it gets ‘lost’ around the house or office. This simple sentence encourages them to deal with it there and then.
The letter is from ONE person. Not both garage guys. Unless there is good reason, communications should always be one-to-one. It’s more personal. If there are two of you running the show – decide who’s going to be the name on the end of letters.
The second version has a P.S.
This is one of the most read parts of a letter. As well as “why are you writing to me?” people like to know “Who is this person who’s writing to me?”… the post script is tucked just under the sign off so it catches the customer’s eye.
The P.S. gives the customer an important bit of advice (bring your old certificate with you) and repeats the call to action.
If the independent garage wanted ‘proof’ of which letter is best, it could test. Send out version one to some customers, version two to the other group of customers. See how many calls and MOT bookings each letter generates.
One way to do this is give each letter a different REFERENCE CODE and ask customers to quote it when calling. Just add the code to the letter and make it clear.
Remember, the words you use in your business are important.
Make every word count.
With more time and attention, even version two could be given more improvement.
If you have a letter or sales letter which could benefit from a second opinion… you know where to find me.