Aaa letters style guide


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Aaa letters style guide

  1. 1. Writing letters in the voice of AAAEach year, AAA Members receive 80+ million transactional letters from us—on topics ranging from welcome messages to the news that they’vebounced a check. Each of these letters creates its own brand experiencewith the potential to deepen the reader’s relationship with us. So it’simportant we get these letters right.Four guiding principles help us shape these experiences.Be accurate and consistent We’re careful about spelling, branding, grammar, punctuation andformatting. Our primary reference works for these mechanics of writing are Webster’s NewCollegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition, The Chicago manual of Style, 15th Edition, and the AAAMasterbrand Guideline.Be personal and appreciative As a Membership organization, AAA has a distinctively personalrelationship with those we serve. We demonstrate this by speaking in the warm, helpful voice ofa trusted fellow Member. Our language is simple, easy to understand, forthright andconversational.Be direct and transparent We show our respect for Members’ time and trust by beingforthright and to-the-point. We clearly state what we want the reader to know and what wewant the reader to do, ideally in the opening paragraph. We avoid sugar-coating difficult newsand when we make apologies we explain why we made the mistake and what we’ve done toprevent it from happening again.Sell the value of AAA Our letters are powerful tools for deepening Member relationshipsthrough product usage, cross-sell and up sell. For this reason we include “sell” messages, to avarying degree, in every letter. Refer to the Cross Sell Decision Chart at the end of this documentfor guidance on which products to include in which letters. 1
  2. 2. Here’s some specific guidance on style:VoiceWrite as you might speak to a Member if he or she were sitting across the desk from you. Whenan individual is the author of a letter we speak in the first person singular voice. When abusiness unit is the author of a letter we speak in the first person plural. We’re pleased to welcome you NOT AAA is pleased to welcome youWe write in the active voice, not the passive We’ve determined that... NOT It has been determined that…We avoid archaic or formal terms Per your correspondence of...We strive, in all our communications, to leave the Members feeling confident that AAA “hastheir back,” and assured that the road ahead will be enjoyable. Even unpleasant news, like thecancellation of an insurance policy, should be delivered with humanity, compassion andhelpfulness. Our brand attributes support us in this: Expert Convenient Proactive Supporting Reliable ResponsibleSalutationIn both AAA Insurance and Membership communications we address Members by first namepreceded by the word “Dear.” Dear JaneIf system limitations prevent customization, we instead use Dear Valued MemberSignaturesWe strive to make sure that letters are authored by an individual rather than a business entity.For Guidance on this, see the “Who Signs What” chart at the end of this document.ClosesWe close our letters with Thanks for the trust you place in AAA. Your fellow AAA Member,When, due to system limitations, letters need to be authored generically, we close with: Thanks for the trust you place in AAA. Sincerely, 2
  3. 3. Calls to actionWe follow direct response best practices and always include a prominent and clear responsemethod, ideally stating it at least twice. Use boldface and larger type to guide improve scan-ability. It’s important have a single, clear call to action. A letter that asks the reader to figure outwhat to do is never going to be as effective as one that tells the reader what to do.Choose imperative sentences over declarative sentences Discover AAA Insurance NOT When you discover AAA InsuranceApologiesWhen making apologies, state the reason for a mistake in simple terms and specify what we’vedone to prevent it from happening again.BrevityWe make letters brief and easily scan-able, limiting them to one page whenever possible.Highlight important elements like calls to action with bold face and use paragraph spaces to“chunk” content into quick hits of copy.Typography/LayoutBecause typography is an important element of our personality, we build consistency of voice byusing our primary house, Frutiger Next, and enhance legibility for all readers by following thesestandard type specifications:Body copy: set in Frutiger Next Light, 11pt minimum with 14pts of line spacing, and 7pts ofparagraph spaceLegal/mice type: Frutger Next Light 9ptAuthorshipWhenever possible, an individual should be identified as the author of a letter. For AAAInsurance and Travel letters the Member’s agent should be the signatory. We identify signatorieswith a signature followed by name and title. Letter type Author AAA Membership Steve Chan, AAA Membership Team Leader AAA Insurance Steve George, AAA Insurance Team Leader 3
  4. 4. Cross-Sell Decision Chart Letter type “Volume” of sell Product(s) to cross-sell, prioritized AAA Membership welcome and High AAA Auto Insurance renewal AAA ERS differentiation AAA Plus or Premier Membership AAA Member Discounts AAA Insurance welcome and Medium Multipolicy discount renewal AAA Home or Renter’s Insurance AAA PUP Life Insurance AAA Insurance billing Medium Multipolicy discount AAA Home Insurance AAA Member Discounts: Auto & Home AAA Insurance claims Low AAA Member discounts: Auto Direct Repair Network AAA Membership transactions Medium to low depending on AAA Plus or Premier Membership letter topic ERS differentiation AAA Member discounts AAA Travel news High Sojourns AAA Plus or Premier Membership (for travel benefits) AAA Member Discounts: Travel AAA Travel transactions Medium Sojourns Plus or Premier Membership (for travel benefits) AAA Member Discounts 4
  5. 5. Cialdini Principles We apply six principles of social psychology, as codified by Robert Cialdini, to improve our response rates. Principle Example Reciprocity: when the customer has already A gift, waived enrollment fee, coupon, helpful gotten something from you, they are more information, etc. likely to reward you with loyalty and more likely to purchase more products; so be the first to give, and establish that reciprocal relationship Consistency: once you have made a “You’ve come to count on AAA for dependable road promise, follow up on the promise; service, now you can peace of mind from your insurance, customers appreciate it when you are too. consistent with existing commitments. Consistency also applies to our desire to align our current choices with past behavior. Consensus: customers are likely to follow “We’re 55 million Members strong” the lead of many others, and of similar “It’s no wonder that 1 in 5 drivers in Northern California others; emphasize what the Member’s peers count on AAA Insurance.” are doing Authority: a credible communicator is “Rated A+ by A.M. Best” knowledgeable and trustworthy; establish “...knowledge gained from more than 100 years of yourself as an authority, reference other duly rescuing motorists.” constituted authorities and always be honest Liking: give genuine compliments and [Member testimonials] praise, and emphasize your mutual efforts “I know that my AAA agent, Patti, has my back.” and mutual goals Scarcity: people are more motivated by the “Don’t risk losing the protection you need—renew fear of loss than by the possibility of gain; today.” highlight the uniqueness of our products and let the customer know how they will be missing out if they don’t take advantage of what AAA has to offer 5