Doctors Without Borders sent me this bill-stuffer with an offer for an affinity "debit card." The key innovation is that I can connect this card to any US checking account: I would not need to change banks. If consumers get used to this idea, the implications could be fairly wide reaching for banks and the loyalty of their checking account customers.
This service, currently being sold by Tempo and First Bank & Trust, would allow any non-bank organization to issue debit cards. Types of organizations could include high schools, universities, non-profits, or for-profit companies.
In fact, using this service, a company could issue loyalty points that would be portable. Similar to airline and hotel points, the consumer could leave his/her bank without leaving behind the accumulated rewards balance. Companies from Coke to CVS offer loyalty points outside of the banking realm, and this seems like a fairly useful extension: credit card and debit card partnerships are potentially a big nut to crack. Those credit/debit partnerships would also require alignment with a specific bank (e.g. Chase), which would naturally exclude some of your members.
With banking reform, it's not too likely that this will bring a deluge of new direct mail, but it I think it is otherwise pretty interesting. It's the first time I've seen of this, although there have apparently been pockets of upstream affinity debit for a little over a year.
Reverse side of the bill stuffer. Click to enlarge
As a marketer, I was really blown away by a "Giving Card" promotion from the New York-based non-profit, ioby, and--on the final day of giving for the 2010 tax year--I thought I'd share why.
ioby is an acronym for "in our back yards," a play off of NIMBY. The organization is part of the growing trend of hyper-local giving organizations. In ioby's case, they facilitate donations to small-scale local environmental projects, with the idea that donors would be able to see the direct impact of their dollars AND benefit from the improvement of their own neighborhoods.
There's a special genius in joining the two ideas of "helping others + benefiting yourself" and many (commercial) referral programs are built on this combination. Since ioby's entire organization is predicated on this duality, a word-of-mouth promotion is a perfect choice--it is right on brand.
ioby's "Giving Card" was handed out at it's Annual Gala. The card includes two $10 donation certificates: one for you and one for a friend. ioby executed this particularly well:
The piece is physically well crafted, with a premium, artisan feel that makes you want to keep it and/or pass it on. There is no substitute for good design: this would not work if it were simply printed on an 8.5x11 sheet. The design, in combination with complex one-time-use codes evokes "bigness" and credibility.
The promotion is not available to everybody. It is only given to those who purchased tickets to the gala and are thus highly inclined to believe in ioby's mission. Too many referral and word-of-mouth promotions lack any sort of exclusivity at all--a major disincentive when it comes to motivating your base.
The $20 worth of donations in the Giving Card were funded by tickets to the Annual Gala. It was important for this promotion to be backed by real value. This allows ticket buyers to see, in an immediate way, how donations to ioby impact their local communities: buyers can direct a portion of their ticket to causes most meaningful to them. At the same time, they would be required to visit ioby.org to see and select projects in their, um, own back yards.
Donors who use the code become invested in a specific, local project. The hope, of course, is that people would give more than the $10 code, but even without additional donations, ioby can now report back to this donor with updates about a specific project--and the impact that even a small amount of money can make.
I spoke to Erin Barnes, ioby's executive director, who sees multiple occurrences of giving reflected by this single piece. She said, "We wanted to create an echo chamber of giving back:
"You gave ioby support by coming to the gala.
"We gave you the cards back.
"You give your piece to a local project.
"You give the other half to a friend.
"The friend gives to a project of his or her choice.
"The project gives back to the NYC environment."
I think this simple piece really succeeds in creating that "echo chamber of giving." Additional details about ioby and its local environmental programs can be found at ioby.org.
Alternate views of the piece can be seen below.
Click either photo to enlarge
Front and back of the Giving Card. The paper is cut and folded in such a way as to open up like a flower. (the photo at the top of the page shows the inside of the card when opened). The card was designed by a printmaking class at Parsons under Shana Agid.