Workshop: Case Study - Motability generates an 8% response

Francois Le Goff

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Background: Motability offers a range of schemes enabling disabled people to buy or lease adapted cars, scooters and powered wheelchairs. Since it was created in 1978, the charity has supplied over 1.5 million motorised vehicles.

In order to join one of Motability's schemes, applicants must be entitled to the higher rate mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance or to the War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement. The mobility component is paid at two rates, high and low, depending on the nature and severity of a person's disability. The most popular is the Contract Hire Scheme, which enables disabled people to acquire a car with a single, regular payment that includes comprehensive insurance, maintenance and breakdown cover.

Over the past 18 months, Motability has greatly improved its customer services with more affordable lease prices, the inclusion of mobility aid damage in fair wear and tear guidelines, and free fitting of new tyres.

However, despite a 15 per cent increase in the number of people joining Motability's schemes this year, the charity estimates that more than 1 million eligible people are unaware of its work. This led Motability to review its marketing and communications strategies to improve its information materials and make them more widely available.

Aims: The campaign aimed to ensure that all eligible disabled people are aware of the services and benefits of Motability's schemes. Its message focused on the recent improvements that the charity had made to its services so that they appeal both to new customers and those who might have been unhappy with its services in the past. The objective was also to exceed the response rate of previous campaigns, which had until then been just 5 per cent.

How it worked: In April and May, the Department for Work and Pensions sent out an information update to the 525,000 existing recipients of the Disability Living Allowance, and Motability included a leaflet about its service, produced by Orbital Design.

The leaflet was also included in mailings sent out to all new recipients of the allowance - around 216,000 each year.

The design had an eye-catching cartoon style that highlighted the freedom and enjoyment associated with increased mobility. The leaflet included a reply-paid postcard, a freephone telephone number and website address so that recipients could request a full information pack.

To cope with the high volume of responses, Motability hired the services of telemarketing agency Direct Dialog. Since April, an average of 560 packs a day have been sent out.

Respondents who requested an information pack also received a telephone call around a week later, designed to answer any questions people might have had about the charity's schemes and the application process.

Results: The campaign exceeded its initial target by achieving an 8 per cent response rate - a high figure for a direct mail campaign. By early June, around 32,000 information packs had been sent out.

People who requested information packs welcomed the follow-up calls and appreciated direct contact over the phone. Information gathered from these calls revealed that around 43 per cent of those who had received the packs had either already applied or were keen to apply to one of Motability's schemes. This information also supported previous suppositions that many eligible people were unaware of the charity's work.

"We have received many favourable comments on the design of our new literature," said Don Brereton, director of Motability.

"It has been successful in raising awareness among many disabled people, and we intend to continue the campaign with further mailings to individuals and disability advice centres."

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