I spend a lot of time writing about the components of direct mail response – list, creative, offer and marketing timing. Today I want to concentrate on THE OFFER because even if I sold you the best mailing list in the world, if you aren’t making a worthy offer – forget it.
The offer is the theme of your communication. I often see the offer being tacked on as kind of an “Oops – I almost forgot it” kind of thing. Begin with it. Restate it. Denote its key benefits. Create the actual copy around it so it’s incorporated into the entire program.
Depending on the nature of the communication, there are different kinds of direct mail offers:
- Lead generation offers
Lead generation offers are typically free offers designed to get someone to raise their hands and say “I’m interested!” (and give us their info so we can connect with them) Common lead generation offers include gifts like white papers, information kits, brochures, booklets, catalogs, newsletters, how-to videos, webinars, podcasts and seminars.
- Order generation offers
Order generation offers are paid offers. “Buy Now / Pay Later”, “No interest until 2017”. When people respond to these offers, they are committing to pay at a later date.
- Continuity offers
Continuity offers are for companies that sell products on a monthly basis. “Try us before you commit”. Common examples include magazine subscriptions, memberships to wholesale buying clubs and health clubs. The offers used for these types of companies are usually free trials for a specific period followed by an agreed-upon monthly billing.
- Traffic building offers
Traffic building offers are most often used by retailers who want to see their stores packed with customers. The most common traffic building offers are discount coupons, BOGOs, Gift with Purchase or free event promotions. (Have you ever been to the Lancome counter during a GWP promotion?)
- Fundraising offers
A Fundraising offer is a bit more delicate. You are asking for a donation. The real offer is that giving will make the donor feel good. While some fundraising promotions include premiums like address labels or bookmarks as an added incentive, the Real Fundraising Offer is giving the donor the best “bang for their buck” and connecting with them at the heart level. In this case, the Offer is in “The Ask”.
Two more things: The offer is an implied contract between you and your prospect so you need to be clear in what you’re committing to. “Buy 1 Get 1 free” can also mean “Buy 100 Get 100 free”. Can you afford that? Make sure you really understand what you’re offering.
Finally, everyone can “see through” lukewarm offers. Free Bitewing X-Rays doesn’t cut it anymore.