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The Beginner's Guide to Great Direct Marketing Offers

After the mailing list, the second most critical part of the success of a direct marketing campaign (whether it's print or pixels) is the offer.

The offer doesn't have to be a sale or a special promotion. It's simply whatever people get when they respond to a mailing. It could be a 25% discount, or a free report, or an appointment.

1. Tailor it to your audience

The greater the appeal, the higher the response rate. But, it must fit the people you're talking to. Think about what problem your customers have and come up with a solution that solves it. It doesn't have to be sale price, it can be a free consultation or product samples. A free one-year supply of diapers will appeal to new parents, but not to cat owners.

2. Don't make it too appealing

That may sound strange, but you want to create an offer that will get the maximum response from the right people, without swamping you with people who are a) not qualified b) not really interested in your product or c) not ready to make a commitment. For example, an offer of a free Lamborghini sent to a list of men between 35-55 will get a stupendous response rate, but cost you a fortune!

3. Consider the commitment

Complicated forms will depress response, as will confusing web sites or signup pages. Higher priced items or business-to-business pitches will get a lower rate than something that's free or aimed at consumers. Business purchases tend to be more expensive, require the input of several people, and have a longer decision-making process.

A real-life example of how this works:

After a grocery delivery, I found two 6-packs of diet soda that I hadn't ordered. I don't drink diet soda, so I decided to offer it to my neighbors. I put out a sign that said:

Delivered by Mistake
Help Yourself!

It had the three key elements of a direct mail piece:

1) there was an offer

2) it contained selling points/benefits, and

3) it included a call to action.

The offer includes what you're selling and how much it costs (in this case, free soda).

The selling points/benefits explain your product's advantages and how it helps people who buy it. In this case, the benefits are that it's a brand name product, it's diet, and it's being given away due to an error (reassuring people it's not defective).

The call to action tells your prospects what you want them to do in order to take advantage of your offer (help yourself, call now, mail this card, etc.)

Oh, and for the record, the soda was gone by the next morning (not bad, considering my "list" of other tenants was only 5 people).

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