In direct mail, the offer is the incentive or reward that you dangle in front of your prospects to motivate them to respond to your mailing, either with an order or with a request for more information.
Offers follow a “you do this and we’ll do that” format. For example: “Place your order before June 3 and we’ll reduce your price by 40%” or “Phone now and we’ll send you a free demo CD. ”
Here are some examples of offers that businesses use to sell their products and services to other businesses using direct mail. Each of these offers gives the prospect something for free. “Free” is still a word that increases response, though it is not as effective as it once was because readers are more sceptical and because spam filters often delete emails that contain the word (that’s why I’ve disguised “free” throughout this message).
1. Free trial
Customers try your product or service before paying for it. Example: “Try our product risk-free for 30 days and pay only if you buy. ”
Pros: Increases response because it eliminates the buyer’s fear of ordering by mail what may prove to be unsatisfactory merchandise.
Cons: Increases cost of processing orders. Hampers cash flow.
2. Free gift for inquiry
Prospects receive a free gift when they request more information. Example: “Call now to learn more, and to receive your free 2006 Wall-Mounted Day Planner. ”
Pros: Effective at increasing inquiries.
Cons: Respondents are usually less qualified, since some will just want your gift, not what you’re selling.
3. Free information
You give prospects information that helps them make an informed buying decision. Example: Free catalog, booklet, report, white paper, video.
Pros: Effective when your product is either complex or expensive, or both, and what you want is a sales lead, not an immediate sale. Also useful when you sell more than one thing.
Cons: Adds to your lead generation costs. Some people collect information but never buy.
4. Free demonstration
You demonstrate your product, usually at the prospect’s place of work. Example: “Call us toll-free to arrange a free, no-obligation demonstration of our new XYZ Dump Trailer. ”
Pros: An effective way to secure meetings with prospects. Overcomes fears and objections (assuming your product is good). Gives you opportunity to answer customer questions in person.
Cons: Expensive when it involves a sales visit.
5. Free analysis
You offer prospects a free needs analysis, survey, audit or check up. Example: “To book your complementary, no-obligation Network Safety Audit, call us today. ”
Pros: Attractive because it gives prospects value and helps them see how you operate. Helps you qualify prospects.
Cons: Expensive when it involves a visit to the prospect’s business. Time-consuming.
6. Free estimate
You offer prospects a free estimate of what they will pay to retain your services or buy your product. Example: “To receive a free estimate of your cost to install the new Nampro 767, call us now. ”
Pros: Helps you generate leads. You get a chance to meet face-to-face with prospects, if necessary.
Cons: Time-consuming. Some prospects will just be shopping for best price. Others will be checking to see if they got a good deal from your competitor. Expensive when it involves a face-to-face meeting.
Alan is a business-to-business direct mail copywriter and lead generation consultant. As President of Sharpe Copy Inc. (http://www.sharpecopy.com ), Alan specializes in helping businesses generate leads, close sales and retain customers, using cost-effective, compelling direct mail and email marketing. Alan also uses his direct mail advertising services to help charities raise funds and raise awareness of their causes, using fundraising letters.